Why Does Diabetes Cause Swollen Feet
A common complication associated with diabetes is swollen feet. The swelling can come from a number of factors but the main concern is diabetic leg pain associated with neuropathy. Although its origin can be traced to several different factors, it is still a very serious condition which, left untreated, could result in irreparable nerve and blood vessel damage and even amputation.
It is a common known fact that diabetes can result in poor blood circulation. The problem is that the circulation appears in other parts of the body, as well. The reason that the legs are usually affected more is a decreased level of activity and prolonged sitting.
Another common occurrence is a pooling of blood in the lower extremities called peripheral vascular disease. This occurs when there is a thinning of the blood vessels or an obstruction of the large arteries of the legs. This, too, can be associated with being a complication of diabetes and a lack of exercise and mobility.
Poor circulation can also result in neuropathy or nerve damage. This happens because blood is not flowing properly and the diminished blood supply eventually begins to take its toll. Once the nerves are subjected to extreme damage, they become damaged forever. Unfortunately, by the time pain is felt, some damage has usually already occurred. Thats why it is important that you contact your doctor immediately once you begin to experience tingling, pain, or numbness.
Tips And Remedies For Reducing Swelling In Legs
Methods used to reduce swelling in legs depends on the causes. Tight sugar control is the key to avoiding complications with diabetes. Some types of swellings may indicate the serious conditions like heart or kidney failure and may require treatment with various drugs. The only specialist can decide on kind of medicines to prescribe for swelling. Usually specialist may give medicines to control blood pressure, increase urine flow , and medicines to improve metabolism of various organs. Non-pharmaceutical methods may also help to relieve the swelling in legs. Some of the non-medicament methods that can be used are given below:
Protect Your Feet From Hot And Cold
If you have nerve damage from diabetes, you may burn your feet and not know you did. Take the following steps to protect your feet from heat:
- Wear shoes at the beach and on hot pavement.
- Put sunscreen on the tops of your feet to prevent sunburn.
- Keep your feet away from heaters and open fires.
- Do not put a hot water bottle or heating pad on your feet.
Wear socks in bed if your feet get cold. In the winter, wear lined, waterproof boots to keep your feet warm and dry.
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Nerve Supply To The Feet
Nerves are the wiring of the body. They carry messages to your brain from the rest of your body. The nerves to your feet are the most likely to be affected by diabetes.Damaged nerves can cause painful, numb or insensitive feet. Minor cuts, blisters or burns may not be felt and ulcers can develop, which you may not be aware of. Some people with neuropathy experience uncomfortable sensations such as burning, tingling and pain. This is often worse at night.It is important to remember that many people with nerve damage have no symptoms and are unaware of the problem. Nevertheless, they are still at risk of developing ulcers.
Why Causes Your Feet To Swell
When a localized area of your body swells, it can be an indication of a number of things. Inflammation and injury are common factors, but in some cases, its caused by edema. An edema is when an area of your body begins to swell due to the accumulation of fluid in your tissues. This can happen for a number of reasonsdiets that are high in sodium, staying in one position for too long, and even hormonal changes. Another cause of edema is diabetes. If you experience swelling with diabetes, it can be caused by something serious and should be examined and treated quickly.
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Your Ankle Or Foot Is Injured
Maybe you sprained your ankle during a gym workout, or you overextended yourself while running or playing with your kids and ended up with a stress fracture of the leg or toe. Injuries like these will cause swelling in and around your feet.
The bodys response is inflammation, explains Tower. The blood goes down to that area of the heel and brings cells and fluid. Ultimately, the cells and fluid help the area heal. But in the meantime, it can make your foot seem extra-large.
Surgery on your leg, ankle, or foot also causes swelling. Your doctor will likely recommend that after the procedure, you control the swelling by elevating your feet, icing the area, and refraining from putting any weight on the limb or foot.
Smooth Corns And Calluses Gently
Thick patches of skin called corns or calluses can grow on the feet. If you have corns or calluses, talk with your foot doctor about the best way to care for these foot problems. If you have nerve damage, these patches can become ulcers.
If your doctor tells you to, use a pumice stone to smooth corns and calluses after bathing or showering. A pumice stone is a type of rock used to smooth the skin. Rub gently, only in one direction, to avoid tearing the skin.
- use corn plasters, which are medicated pads
- use liquid corn and callus removers
Cutting and over-the counter corn removal products can damage your skin and cause an infection.
To keep your skin smooth and soft, rub a thin coat of lotion, cream, or petroleum jelly on the tops and bottoms of your feet. Do not put lotion or cream between your toes because moistness might cause an infection.
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Why Do My Feet Hurt
If you have Type 2 Diabetes, and your feet hurt, you are not alone. Many people with diabetes suffer from the pain of peripheral neuropathy. As it turns out, the high blood sugars over time damage the blood vessels. We then see that the vascular system is also interrelated with the nervous system. Imagine that you have tiny bits of plastic floating around in your blood stream, the effect is similar.
The tiny pieces of hard plastic beat up against the sides of your blood vessels and damage them. Its not real plastic, but bits of bad fat floating in there. It hardens, much like the bad cholesterol from animal fats in our blood steam. People with diabetes have dyslipidemia, so they are more prone to have this bad fat floating around in the blood stream.
Once the blood vessels have some damaged areas inside them, thats when you start to feel extra sensitive in your feet. The feet are innervated by the longest nerves that extend from our brain to our toes. This is why people with diabetes feel the pain of peripheral neuropathy in their feet first.
Symptoms are often profound at night, and can alternate from numbness to mild to severe pain. When our feet are numb, our feet cant tell our brain that something is wrong. Therein lies the main problem with diabetic peripheral neuropathy.
Trim Your Toenails Straight Across
Trim your toenails, when needed, after you wash and dry your feet. Using toenail clippers, trim your toenails straight across. Do not cut into the corners of your toenail. Gently smooth each nail with an emery board or nonsharp nail file. Trimming this way helps prevent cutting your skin and keeps the nails from growing into your skin.
Have a foot doctor trim your toenails if
- you cannot see, feel, or reach your feet
- your toenails are thick or yellowed
- your nails curve and grow into the skin
If you want to get a pedicure at a salon, you should bring your own nail tools to prevent getting an infection. You can ask your health care provider what other steps you can take at the salon to prevent infection.
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Reasons You Have Swollen Feet According To Doctors
Youve got to hand it to your feetthey might just be the hardest-working part of your body. They take a beating every day, supporting your body weight and letting you walk, run, jump, stand, and tip-toe. The 26 bones and more than 100 muscles, tendons, and ligaments in each foot and ankle work as a team, carrying you to your job, the gym, and home.
All of this foot action adds up to a lot of wear and tear, so it isnt a surprise that one of the biggest complaints people have is swollen feet. Feet often puff up a half-size or so because youre not treating them with the TLC they deservesay by standing all day or shoving them into too-tight pumps. But swollen feet have other causes too, some of which are serious and serve as red flags to a larger health issue.
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So what exactly happens when feet swell? Whether due to pressure, inactivity, injury, or some other cause, circulation to and from your feet slows down, and blood begins to pool in the many blood vessels spread out along your toes, heels, and ankles. Gravity helps this along too, says Dyane Tower, DPM, director of clinical affairs at the American Podiatric Medical Association.
Tired of coming home with feet that feel like balloons and concerned about why theyre swollen? Our guide below covers every cause, then takes you through the next steps.
What Are The Causes Of Feet Sensitivity
The causes of foot sensitivity from diabetic neuropathies are all related to high blood glucose, in one way or another. Still, its a combination of many things that leads to neuropathies. Research is currently looking at how blood glucose plays a part, specifically, high blood glucose when it comes to neuropathy.
Neuropathies can happen anywhere in the human body. If you have had diabetes for decades, and have high bad blood cholesterol numbers, your chances of having neuropathies will be high. Other factors that are the root causes of neuropathies include low insulin levels, damaged veins and arteries that feed the nerves, and inflammation in nerve pathways.
An injury to nerves in the wrist area can also cause neuropathy. Inherited nerve diseases, smoking, and alcohol use can also play a part in the development of neuropathies. All of these things, combined with decades of Type 2 Diabetes, high blood pressure, high LDL or bad cholesterol, lead to an increased incidence of neuropathies in the diabetic population.
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How To Improve Circulation For People With Diabetes
Suggestions to improve your blood circulation include:
- Control your blood fat levels.
- Keep blood glucose levels as close to normal as possible.
- Dont smoke. Smoking causes spasm and narrowing of blood vessels. Smokers have more heart attacks, strokes and circulation problems than non-smokers.
- Exercise daily. A brisk walk will help keep the blood flowing around your body.
Tips For Healthy Feet
Get to the bottom of any foot problems by using a mirror or asking for help.
Check your feet every day for cuts, redness, swelling, sores, blisters, corns, calluses, or any other change to the skin or nails. Use a mirror if you cant see the bottom of your feet, or ask a family member to help.
Wash your feet every day in warm water. Dont soak your feet. Dry your feet completely and apply lotion to the top and bottombut not between your toes, which could lead to infection.
Never go barefoot. Always wear shoes and socks or slippers, even inside, to avoid injury. Check that there arent any pebbles or other objects inside your shoes and that the lining is smooth.
Wear shoes that fit well. For the best fit, try on new shoes at the end of the day when your feet tend to be largest. Break in your new shoes slowlywear them for an hour or two a day at first until theyre completely comfortable. Always wear socks with your shoes.
Trim your toenails straight across and gently smooth any sharp edges with a nail file. Have your foot doctor trim your toenails if you cant see or reach your feet.
Dont remove corns or calluses yourself, and especially dont use over-the-counter products to remove themthey could burn your skin.
Get your feet checked at every health care visit. Also, visit your foot doctor every year for a complete exam, which will include checking for feeling and blood flow in your feet.
Be sure to ask your doctor what else you can do to keep your feet healthy.
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Peripheral Neuropathy And Diabetes
Diabetic foot pain is mainly due to a condition called peripheral neuropathy. Approximately 50% of people who have type 2 diabetes will develop peripheral neuropathy, which happens when high blood sugar levels cause damage to the nerves in the legs and the feet.
If you are frequently feeling foot pain, your type of neuropathy may be sensory, where even the slightest touch can cause overwhelming pain. The reaction is not proportional to the stimulus, because the nerves are overly sensitive.
Another type of peripheral neuropathy is motor neuropathy, wherein the nerves that connect to the muscles are weakened and therefore hurt. As a result, it may be a challenge to balance yourself with weakened legs and feet. This imbalance may lead to the development of corns, calluses, cuts, scrapes, and swelling.
For diabetics with motor neuropathy, customized orthotics may help address the balance issues and prevent the development of other foot issues. Its important that you keep your muscles in use so that your legs and feet stay strong.
What Can I Do To Keep My Feet Healthy
Work with your health care team to make a diabetes self-care plan, which is an action plan for how you will manage your diabetes. Your plan should include foot care. A foot doctor, also called a podiatrist, and other specialists may be part of your health care team.
Include these steps in your foot care plan:
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When Should You Call A Doctor If You Have Diabetes And Foot Problems
Write down the patient’s symptoms and be prepared to talk about them on the phone with a doctor. Following is a list of common reasons to call a doctor if a person with diabetes has a diabetic foot or leg problem. For most of these problems, a doctor visit within about 72 hours is appropriate.
If time and the patient’s condition permits, write down the patient’s symptoms, a list of medications, allergies to medicines, and the doctor’s name and phone number prior to coming to the hospital’s emergency department. This information will greatly assist the emergency physician in the evaluation and treatment of the patient’s problem.
Following are some common reasons to seek immediate medical attention for diabetic foot and leg problems.
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What Are Diabetic Foot Problems
Diabetes mellitus represents several diseases in which high blood glucose levels over time can damage the nerves, kidneys, eyes, and blood vessels. Diabetes can also decrease the body’s ability to fight infection. When diabetes is not well controlled, damage to the organs and impairment of the immune system is likely. Foot problems commonly develop in people with diabetes and can quickly become serious.
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Other Causes Of Edema
Heart failure is not the only cause of swelling in the feet. Allergic reactions, burns, trauma, blood clots, or severe inflammation can cause edema as well.
Other causes can include:
- Gravity: If youve been sitting or standing in one place for too long, gravity gradually pulls the fluid in your body down to your legs and feet.
- Varicose veins:Veins in your legs cant get blood back up to your heart, causing blood to collect in your legs.
- Medications: Blood pressure or pain medications can cause swelling.
- High salt intake:You may not be aware that your sodium intake is high. Processed or packaged foods, olives, legumes, and cheese can have high amounts of sodium.
- Pregnancy: As the baby grows, the uterus puts pressure on the blood vessels in the lower half of your body.
- Thyroid disease: Both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism can cause edema.
Get Rid Of Your Extra Weight
Obesity is a leading risk factor of diabetes. If you get rid of your extra weight, you will not only bring down your risk of chronic complications like heart disease but also reduce the pressure on your legs and joints. It will keep your blood sugar levels stable and you will be less likely to suffer damage to your blood vessels.
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Wash Your Feet Every Day
Wash your feet with soap in warm, not hot, water. Test the water to make sure it is not too hot. You can use a thermometer or your elbow to test the warmth of the water. Do not soak your feet because your skin will get too dry.
After washing and drying your feet, put talcum powder or cornstarch between your toes. Skin between the toes tends to stay moist. Powder will keep the skin dry to help prevent an infection.
When Should I Seek Medical Care For Diabetic Foot Pain
If you have diabetes, tell your healthcare provider right away if you experience:
- Any changes in foot shape.
- Any changes to the skin on the feet, including a wound, redness or darkness, warmth or a funny smell.
- Hair loss on your toes, feet or legs.
- Loss of feeling in the toes, feet or legs.
- Pain, tingling, burning or cramping in the feet or legs.
- Thick, yellow toenails.
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