Neuropathy and Peripheral Arterial Disease: A Dangerous Combination for Individuals With Diabetes

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Diabetes can produce some serious complications such as cardiovascular disease, kidney and eye damage and skin problems.

Two of the most common complications of diabetes can work together to put your feet at serious risk. These are neuropathy, or nerve damage, and peripheral arterial disease (PAD), or restricted blood flow to the extremities. Each of these conditions is serious in itself, but when acting together you may experience severe foot damage that you cannot feel and that won’t heal properly.

Neuropathy Causes Lack of Sensation

Having a too-high glucose level in the blood can damage the nerves that send signals to and from your feet. When nerves are not working properly, there is a diminished sense of feeling in the feet. Symptoms of neuropathy include numbness, tingling, pain or a burning sensation.  

If you have neuropathy, you may suffer a small cut, puncture wound or bruise in your foot and not even know it. Without identifying this harm and taking steps to heal it, the wound may worsen into an ulcer. An ulcer may need hospitalization to treat and can even lead to amputation.

Peripheral Arterial Disease Slows the Blood Flow to the Feet

Individuals with type 2 diabetes are prone to developing heart disease and high cholesterol and often have plaque build-up in their arteries. This condition blocks or narrows the blood vessels and therefore diminishes the blood flow to the feet. A reduced blood flow will slow the healing process.

Many patients with diabetes do not have any symptoms of PAD, but others may have mild leg pain or trouble walking. The lower legs or feet may exhibit numbness, tingling or coldness.

A Hazardous Combination

When combined, neuropathy and PAD form a dangerous duo that can lead to serious foot damage. Because the patient has diminished sensation in the feet due to neuropathy, a wound may not be observed until it has progressed to a serious ulcer. The reduced blood flow from PAD will impede the healing process. 

The bottom line is that a person with diabetes won’t feel a foot wound and it won’t heal properly because of PAD. That dangerous combination can lead to amputation.

If you have diabetes, it’s essential to have your feet examined regularly by a podiatrist. We’ll look for any foot damage and quickly develop a treatment plan for what we find.

Let Us Know If You Have Diabetes

The foot specialists at PodiatryCare, PC and the Heel Pain Center have extensive experience in treating all aspects of foot problems. Our team of doctors is dedicated to serving you with all of the newest diagnostic and treatment technologies. Many treatments and surgeries can be handled right in our offices. Please call us at (860) 741-3041 to make an appointment in one of our offices conveniently located in Enfield,Windsor and South Windsor, CT