George was newly diagnosed with diabetes. The doctor gave him a list of lifestyle adjustments, but it was hard to implement them all at once. His work as a police officer kept him busy, he had little time for exercise and convenience food was a mainstay. He’d noticed foot numbness but didn’t think much of it.
While walking around the locker room at work, George cut the bottom of his foot. He’d always healed quickly, so he shrugged it off and went about his day. As time passed, however, the wound didn’t heal like he expected. The area grew hot and red. The redness began to spread across his foot toward his ankle.
George’s wife told him to go to the doctor two days ago, but now she insisted. George gave in, thinking they’d give him an antibiotic and send him on his way. Unfortunately, that’s not what happened.
The ER doctor told them the blood poisoning could have killed him if he’d waited any longer to seek care. George required an operation on his foot to clean the staph infection, put him on IV antibiotics, and admitted him to the hospital. The surgeon couldn’t close the wound because of the infection. It had to seal itself. They treated the open wound for weeks before it closed, and George missed months of work before he was fully operational.
The Effects Of Foot Neuropathy
This true story illustrates the critical nature of foot care for people with peripheral neuropathy. Nerve damage can numb your feet. You may not even feel a small prick or cut on the bottom of your foot, let alone realize that it is becoming infected. Neuropathy can cause tingling, burning, or stabbing sensations that can mask the pain of minor injuries.
Because neuropathy is often caused by or associated with poor circulation in the extremities, wounds are also less likely to heal without intervention. Any injury you have will need extra attention and care to help it heal quickly and completely.
Protect Your Feet
The best thing you can do to prevent an injury is always wear shoes suitable for your condition. Proper fitting footwear puts a layer of protection between your feet and the outside world. It also provides comfortable support. Here are some features to look for:
- Go shoe shopping near the end of the day when your feet have swelled as far as they are going to. Make sure the shoes you select aren’t too tight.
- The toe box should be rounded and allow your toes to wiggle freely.
- You want the shoe snug enough to prevent sliding and loose enough to prevent pressure sores.
- The most significant force when walking is on the heel. You want plenty of cushioning to absorb the impact.
- Make sure the inside is sufficiently cushioned everywhere to prevent friction and blisters when you push off.
- The shoe should come with adequate arch support that’s soft but firm enough to keep your arch from falling.
- The side of the shoe next to the arch should also support you, preventing prolapse (turning your ankle in as you walk.)
- The sole needs a thick, tough surface to act like armor while being pliable enough to allow your foot to move.
- Rocker bottoms help minimize impact and distribute it through the entire motion of each step.
Note: They make orthotic sandals for the summer, but avoid anything between your toes, as they can cause blisters before you feel the irritation.
Adopting a daily foot care regimen can also help prevent surprises, ease discomfort, and keep you healthy.
- Check your feet daily for any injuries. Treat all injuries seriously. If they do not heal independently, redness spreads wider than the original injury, or it feels hot, see a doctor as soon as possible.
- Wear soft socks that will limit friction.
- Moisturize feet daily. A daily foot rub will ease the ache of being on your feet all day and keep the skin smooth and elastic. Dry feet can crack and take longer to heal.
- If your feet get wet, remove your wet shoes and socks and replace or dry them before putting them back on. Wet feet blister more easily.
- If you get a blister, leave the blister intact to prevent infection. If it pops, gently squeeze out the liquid, wash it, and apply antibiotic ointment. Keep it clean with a bandage or dressing. Reapply the medicated dressing often and monitor it for signs of infection.
Following a simple foot care routine and good footwear, you can prevent injuries that could lead to infection, gangrene, amputation, and even death. You’ll also be more comfortable throughout the day. Learning to care for the areas of your body most affected by your peripheral neuropathy is essential to leading the fulfilling life you have in mind. Do all you can on your own and enlist the help of neuropathy care experts. Your feet will thank you.
DISCLAIMER: THIS ARTICLE DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE
The information, including but not limited to texts, graphics, images, and other material contained in this article, are for informational purposes only. None of the material mentioned is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment before undertaking a new care regimen. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this article.