The physicians at Foot Specialists of Greater Cincinnati specialize in the treatment of Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy. If you are suffering the conditions described below and would like treatment, please call us at (859) 341-9900 to schedule an appointment.
What Is Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy?
Diabetic neuropathy is nerve damage caused by diabetes. When it affects the arms, hands, legs, and feet, it is known as diabetic peripheral neuropathy. Diabetic peripheral neuropathy is different from peripheral arterial disease (poor circulation), which affects the blood vessels rather than the nerves.
Three different groups of nerves can be affected by diabetic neuropathy:
- Sensory nerves, which enable people to feel pain, temperature, and other sensations
- Motor nerves, which control the muscles and give them their strength and tone
- Autonomic nerves, which allow the body to perform certain involuntary functions, such as sweating
Diabetic peripheral neuropathy does not emerge overnight. Instead, it usually develops slowly and worsens over time. Some patients have this condition long before they are diagnosed with diabetes. Having diabetes for several years may increase the likelihood of having diabetic neuropathy. The loss of sensation and other problems associated with nerve damage make a patient prone to developing skin ulcers (open sores) that can become infected and may not heal. This serious complication of diabetes can lead to loss of a foot, a leg or even a life.
The image above is of a plantarflexed 1st metatarsal; this predisposes patients to ulcerative breakdown, which is particularly dangerous for diabetic patients who have lost sensation to the foot. The increased pressure from the bone deformity causes the skin to break down and ulcerate, but because the can’t feel pain, the injury to the skin worsens with time, the wound increases in size and chances for infection increase significantly.