What signs should I look for?
Because damage to the nerves and blood supply to your feet happens gradually, it’s important to know what to look for and how to spot the signs of any change.
By checking your feet regularly you can spot the signs of any damage early. This means that you can get help quickly and can prevent the damage from getting any worse. There are a number of different things for you to look out for.
As well as the symptoms which you might spot yourself, your health professional will also be testing for changes to your feet. When you go to your annual diabetes review he or she will look for changes to your nerves and the blood supply as well as checking the shape and condition of your feet.
- Changes to nerves
- Changes to blood supply
- Tingling or pins and needles in your feet or lower legs. This feeling is usually there all the time. It can be mild or more severe, for example, it can be uncomfortable enough to give you trouble sleeping.
- Numbness. You could start to lose the sensation and feeling in your feet and legs. This means that you may not be able to feel pain or hot and cold which also means that you may not notice small injuries like cuts, burns or blisters.
- Pain. Although you might not be able to feel some kinds of pain, for example when your shoes rub, nerve damage can sometimes cause you to feel a constant pain in your feet and legs. This can be severe. You might have shooting pains or feel like your feet are burning. Your skin can also feel very sensitive, so that clothes or sheets feel unpleasant if they touch you.
- Sweating less. Your feet may sweat less than you would normally expect. This can cause dry skin which can be a problem as it can easily become cracked and sore.
- The skin on your feet may look red and feel hot to the touch.
- Changes in the shape of your feet. Because nerve damage can affect the messages sent to your muscles, which help to control how you move, your feet might change shape. The arch of your foot can drop and your toes can start to curl under.
- Hard skin. Because you have less feeling you may not know when you’re putting extra pressure on your feet or when you have walked too much. Where there is extra or constant pressure on your feet hard skin builds up. This is sometimes called callus.
- Losing sense of the position of your feet and legs. You may not be able to sense where your feet or legs are in relation to the rest of you, or what they are doing. When this sense starts to fail you may find that you start to walk in a different way, or have trouble balancing.