Treatment for diabetic foot pain, whether resulting from nerves that are affected by the condition of diabetes itself (diabetic peripheral neuropathy) or as a result of blood circulation problems, requires the right diagnosis.
This is best done in consultation with a doctor or diabetes foot pain specialist.
Alongside of that, sufferers of diabetes and foot pain can support any prescribed medications and treatments with some natural alternative remedies of their own, some of which are suggested here
Foot pain is a very common problem for people who suffer from diabetes. In fact foot complaints are the number one cause of hospitalization of people who suffer from diabetes and it stems from four basic diabetic conditions.
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Peripheral neuropathy: Cause and treatment
The first is a nerve related problem where foot pain arises due to nerves that are directly affected by diabetes itself, a condition which has been named ‘Peripheral Neuropathy’.
This leads to the feet becoming very sensitive to any kind of touch, otherwise known as sensory neuropathy, which normally wouldn’t be a matter of concern to anyone without this condition.
It might be as slight a touch as the bedsheet wafting over the skin at night or the act of putting on a pair of shoes, before going out.
It often presents as a kind of numbness which is nevertheless very painful and at other times it can be experienced as a very uncomfortable burning, prickly or tingling sensation or sharp, shooting pains. Consistently high blood sugar levels lead to an increased likelihood of getting this kind of pain.
Quick remedies might include gentle foot massage with a specially tailored diabetic, homeopathic or herbal foot cream and applying the energy technique of EFT. Other natural relief remedies include using cushioned or magnetic inserts in regular footwear to relieve the pressure or pain when walking, wearing soft slip on shoes or walking in open toe sandals. Longer term remedies might include dietary supplements such as taking vitamin B or using prescribed medication.
Diabetes can also affect the nerves that are connected to the muscles, causing them to weaken and this results in corresponding aches and pains, most often in the thigh area or in the feet muscles. It becomes difficult to lift up the foot and can also lead to walking with a slight limp to compensate for this ‘foot drop’ condition.
Unfortunately this can have the effect of further pain arising in the feet due to stiffness and inflammation, blisters, corns and callouses that develop from the adapted way of moving around.
Stiff joints and tendons
A third condition, giving rise to pain in the feet are muscle, tendon and joint problems. The tendons are connected to the joints and if they lose their supple flexion by becoming stiff, this will have a direct effect on the joints which will usually lead to walking imbalances ans as previously mentioned, the result will be local problems in the foot such as bunions, callouses, bone spurs and ulceration.
The treatment for these ‘knock on’ effects consist of corrective or supportive footwear such as biomechanical shoes and special insoles, aimed at resetting the imbalances and also tailored foot exercises and some recommended massage. It is a rather unpleasant but necessary remedy, keeping the feet moving in order to reduce inflammation and stiffness but without it the painful problem could worsen.
Circulatory problems and suggested treatments
Another cause of diabetic foot pain is related to the body’s circulation which doesn’t flow well into the feet. When the circulation is cut off or blocked then pain automatically follows. Veins can become painfully swollen and ulcers can develop.
Known as peripheral vascular disease, cramps in the calves are also a common symptom and healing from an injury to the foot is seriously compromised.
In this case remedies might include wearing support stockings, massage to improve circulation, exercise, prescription medication and regular checking for cracks and injuries to the skin so that treatment can be applied before any infection sets in.Regularly moisturizing the area of the feet and legs can help to minimize cracks and avoid walking barefoot.
Diabetes and foot infections: Causes and remedies
This is the fourth consideration, that diabetes leads to an increased risk of developing foot infections through open ulcerous wounds and injuries. With diabetes there is generally a decreased resistance to infection. I
n this case the area can become very red, painful and swollen and tender to the touch. It may be confined to the skin area, called cellulitis, or can also spread to the bone, in which case it is called osteomyelitis and if left untreated can lead to gangrene. Fungal infections often attack the toenails which can lead them to grow inwards and thicken or become powdery.
Remedies include boosting the immune system with supplements and alternative techniques such as meditation and laughter yoga, good blood sugar control and massaging the foot with herbal or natural treatments such as tea tree oil, sesame oil, liquid colloidal silver, virgin olive oil or manuka honey and in cases of infection, prescribed antibiotics.
Of course it is always a good idea to have regular check ups with a doctor or health professional since about 15% of all diabetics will develop a serious foot complaint at some time or other in their diabetic career which can sometimes lead to amputation of the foot or even the leg (as happened to my father). It is best to regard the remedies suggested here as supportive meaures you can take alongside conventional treatments rather than as being sufficient by themselves