What Causes Foot Pain in the Sufferer From Diabetes?

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Foot pain in diabetics is most commonly caused by a condition called peripheral neuropathy, in which the nerves in the limbs are affected, thereby impeding normal communication between the affected area and the brain.

There are three types of peripheral neuropathy: sensory, motor and autonomic. Out of these three, sensory peripheral neuropathy is responsible for the most number of affected individuals.

Sensory peripheral neuropathy is characterized by loss of sensitivity to temperatures, numbness, and the presence of a burning, tingling sensation. Sensory pain in peripheral neuropathy is also when the pain felt is largely disproportionate to what caused it, for instance extreme pain from the pressure from a blanket, or even the slightest touch. The numbness from this type of peripheral neuropathy can lead to sores and wounds developing without being noticed, which can be infected and lead to more serious complications which in extreme cases require amputation- in fact, more than 50% of all lower limb amputations in the US are of diabetics, many of them preventable with the proper care.

Motor peripheral neuropathy is when the nerves to the muscles are affected by the diabetes, causing them to weaken and ache. The areas that are most commonly affected are the thigh, shin muscles and the small muscles in the feet. Because of this, people affected by motor neuropathy have a hard time walking, and experience loss of coordination and balance. Because of the awkward and abnormal way that a person may be walking after being affected, excessive rubbing with footwear with the skin might be experienced, leading to inflammation, soreness and wounds.

Autonomic peripheral neuropathy is concerned with the involuntary functions such as sweating, or oil secretion through the skin. Because of this, patients may experience dryness which can lead to cracked skin, dry cuticles etc. these conditions can bring about wounds and pain that would otherwise might have been prevented.

Circulation problems also cause extreme foot pain in diabetics. The arteries that are most commonly affected are those located behind the knees and in the calf. Poor circulation will cause tissues and cells to starve for oxygen, which can make it very painful for the patient. Blockages in capillaries can also cause the veins to get swollen, and even sometimes rupture to the point of creating ulcers in the skin.

Joint problems can also bring about pain to the diabetic. The tendons which connect the muscles to the bones in the joins sometimes get stiff due to the posture imbalance that a diabetic experiences. Because of other pain, a diabetic will sometimes be forced to assume a posture or walk in a way that is not normal. This causes the tendons to contract or stiffen, which causes pain. Likewise, excess sugar from the blood can combine with the proteins in the joins and cause a condition called diabetic glycosylation, which can cause further pain.

Because of some chemical changes in the body, diabetics are also susceptible to numerous infections. This is why diabetics are advised to do regular checkups of their own feet to check that there are no skin abnormalities (sores, blisters, inflammation) which can get infected and may lead to more serious problems.