Next Steps: Walking with Neuropathy

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The doctors at Foot and Ankle Centers of North Houston meet people with a variety of medical backgrounds, including patients with diabetes. One of the common conditions associated with diabetes is diabetic peripheral neuropathy. In short, this is permanent nerve damage that can affect the arms, hands, legs, and feet. If you are diagnosed with neuropathy, getting used to the feeling of numbness can take time, and you may have questions. We’re here to help.  

What causes diabetic peripheral neuropathy?  

If a person has diabetes, they have a higher than normal elevation of their blood sugar, and they don’t have the right amount of insulin to metabolize their blood. As a result, blood glucose enters nerve tissue and causes damage. All patients with diabetes are at risk — regardless of whether they are taking pills or insulin. 

What happens after the nerve damage?

When nerve damage occurs, certain sensations are affected; these sensations are considered protective. For example, you may lose the ability to know if something is hot or cold, or sharp or dull.  

If you have neuropathy, you first begin to feel a burning sensation in your toes. The sensation then moves upward to your feet. Over time, the numbness increases in your feet. To some people, it feels like they’re wearing a pair of socks — even when they are not. To others, it may feel like they are walking on something very soft, like cotton. 

Unfortunately, you cannot reverse nerve damage. However, with lower glucose levels, you may be able to slow down the process.  

What are some things to avoid?

  • Walking barefoot

  • Soaking feet in hot water

  • Using heating pads for warmth

  • Trimming toenails too close

Finding the right pair of shoes for this condition is critical for comfort and safety. Did you know that we have a partnership with Orthofeet? If you’re our North Houston neighbor, visit our office for a proper shoe fitting. You can meet with our board-certified team of podiatrists and surgeons at the following locations: Northwest Houston, Northeast Houston, Tomball, Liberty Dayton, The Woodlands, Atascocita, Cleveland, and Livingston. You can either make an appointment online or call us at (281) 444-4114.