Five Stages of Diabetic Neuropathy in Feet

Unfortunately, diabetes and neuropathy of feet go hand in hand.  Neuropathy in diabetics is the prime factor in loss of toes and feet. The term neuropathy can mean a loss of sensation; it can also describe altered sensation.  'Neuro' refers to neurology (sensation) while 'pathy' references pathology, which we associate with something being wrong in the body. It can be a disease or disorder.

Diabetic neuropathy is categorized according to what it is affecting. Autonomic neuropathy includes internal organs, eyes, and sexual organs. Proximal neuropathy affects the legs and hips. There is focal neuropathy which involves specific nerves in various points of the body (including feet). Peripheral neuropathy is nerve damage of the limbs. It is more common to experience damage to the feet before hands and arms.

Here on, we are discussing diabetic neuropathy of the feet.

There are five stages associated with neuropathy.  They are listed here to help the reader determine your own situation, and to hopefully take steps to implement good diabetic foot care habits, learn how to control further damage and live an optimally healthful lifestyle.

Stage One.  Known as "formication"; the bottoms of the feet have a tingling feeling, or the sensation of bugs crawling across the bottoms of the feet.  There may be the sensation of bees stinging the feet.  There may be extreme sensitivity to touch, even to the point of a bedsheet causing discomfort.

If a diabetic begins to notice this  it is imperative to report it at once to prevent further neuropathy; the problem has begun.

Stage Two.  The sensations get stronger and occur more often.

Stage Three. The problem can wake you out of your sleep. There can be a constant burning sensation of the feet.

Stage Four. Now there are some moments of relief from the pain. Unfortunately this does not indicate any type of healing; the neuropathy is progressing into periods of numbness, which is:

Stage Five. A complete loss of sensation. This is when ulcers are likely to develop.

Loss of feeling leads to muscle weakness and loss of balance. When the foot is functioning abnormally, deformities develop, along with sores. If an infection sets in it can invade bone, which leads to amputation.

The most important things to do are control blood sugar levels and constant monitoring of foot health.

It cannot be stressed enough to seek medical attention early. 

Some people take supplements to support the nervous system and enhance healthy lipid levels.

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Please read this related article, "8 Ways to Fight Diabetic Foot Pain".

Kim Harrison, Basic PLUS Author

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