Numbing sensation caused by Diabetes?

by Dr. Neal Blitz

At 48 years old I suffer from diabetes. I live in New York and I do a lot of walking. I have noticed that if I am on my feet for an extended period of time I get a numbing sensation and cannot feel my feet. Would this be caused by my diabetes?

Diabetes is known to cause a condition called peripheral neuropathy – which causes numbness, tingling, and temperature sensations in the feet. Neuropathy associated with diabetes tends to involve both feet, and starts at the toes and progresses up the leg. Foot doctors relate to this as stocking neuropathy to match the geographic area that can be involved.

More advanced diabetic neuropathy can result in losing critical sensation of the foot, where a person doesn’t ‘feel” their feet in the same way when compared to someone without neuropathy. This means that patient with diabetic neuropathy can step on something sharp and/or develop a sore on the foot and not even know it. Additionally, advanced diabetic neuropathy can cause deep loss of sensation in the foot where bone breaks can occur, a condition called Charcot, which can lead to major structural foot changes.

I am sure to counsel my New York diabetic patients with walk a lot to check their feet daily, and inspect their feet closely. Patients with neuropathy should wear shoe gear that has proper cushioning and in some cases provided by your foot doctor. Diabetic peripheral neuropathy can lead to a condition I termed the foot attack – which is equivalent to a heart attack of the foot, so its important manage neuropathy properly.



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