Millions of people in the world experience pain from one problem or another; pain they wish would go away. But did you know the ability to feel pain could be considered a blessing? The ability to feel pain allows us to know when a stimulus is potentially harmful. If we have a splinter in our hand, touch a hot stove, pull a muscle – all of these pain signals allow us to know when something is awry. We can then heed the warnings of our body and either avoid further damage to ourselves and/or protect the area of our body that is causing us pain.
Diabetics, however, can lose the ability to feel all sensation in their feet, including pain. The inability to metabolize sugars causes large fluctuations in the amount of sugar (glucose) in the blood. The higher and longer the duration of elevated blood sugar, the more damaging this can become to the tissues; namely the eyes, kidneys, and feet. Similarly, if you were to drop a few drops of gasoline in to a spray bottle of water and dust your grass with this solution, it would not immediately kill the grass. If you sprayed the grass daily with this same solution, however, over time, the gasoline would become toxic to the grass, ultimately killing it.
Over time, the fluctuations of blood sugar can damage the nerves in the feet, called peripheral neuropathy (damage to the nerves). Initial symptoms include burning, “pins and needles” sensations, and tingling, and may eventually progress to complete numbness.
The inability to feel the feet at all poses problems. The ability to feel a seam in a shoe, a pebble stuck to your foot, or a blister that otherwise would be a nuisance becomes undetectable. If undiscovered, this type of problem can cause significant sores or ulcers to develop on the foot. So the next time you feel a small rock in your shoe, take a second and be thankful you have the ability to know its there! If you have peripheral neuropathy, diabetes, a history of previous foot wounds, or a chronic callus that repeatedly recurs, give us a call. An inch of prevention can save you miles of problems down the road!