Diabetes has many side effects, the most common being diabetic neuropathy. What is diabetic neuropathy and how do you know if you have it?
If you feel tingling or numbness in your fingers and toes, you may have diabetic neuropathy. In diabetes, there is an increase in blood glucose levels, or blood sugar levels. These abnormal levels are controlled by oral medications or insulin, and sometimes even diet. As blood sugar levels rise, it affects the nerve endings that allow you to feel. Not all diabetics have peripheral neuropathy; it depends on the severity of the disease and how well your blood sugars are under control. When you visit your podiatrist, she will perform several simple hands-on tests to determine the extent of the neuropathy. These noninvasive tests include testing for sharp/dull sensation, proprioception, and vibratory sensation. She will probably test certain areas of the foot with a monofilament, akin to a small wire, which measures the presence of fine touch. This is helpful in determining if you still have the "gift of pain," or the ability to protect yourself from injuries that may turn into open sores or ulcers. For an accurate diagnosis of neuropathy in your feet and how to help reduce complications due to neuropathy, visit the Diabetic Foot Center of Excellence at Prairie Path Foot and Ankle Clinic and we can help you.