Mayo Clinic: I was diagnosed with diabetes a few months ago,
and I am concerned about peripheral neuropathy in my feet. Is
there anything I can do to prevent this?
Peripheral neuropathy is a common problem that can happen as a
result of diabetes. But it isnít inevitable. To help prevent
peripheral neuropathy, closely follow your health care
providerís instructions for managing your diabetes and make
healthy lifestyle choices.
neuropathy happens when nerves in your feet or hands ó your
peripheral nerves ó become damaged. Diabetes may lead to
peripheral neuropathy because excess sugar in the blood can
injure the walls of the tiny blood vessels, called
capillaries, which deliver blood to the nerves. That injury
hampers the capillariesí ability to carry sufficient amounts
of blood. Without proper nourishment, the peripheral nerves
lose their ability to function properly.
peripheral neuropathy can affect both the hands and the feet,
for people with diabetes, itís more common in the feet. It
usually involves a slow progression of numbness, prickling or
tingling in the feet that may then spread into the legs. Some
people with peripheral neuropathy also feel a sharp, jabbing,
throbbing, freezing or burning pain, and their feet may be
extremely sensitive to touch.
thing you can do to help prevent peripheral neuropathy is keep
your blood sugar under control. Monitor your blood sugar
regularly, and take your diabetes medications exactly as
directed by your health care provider.
regularly also can help control your blood sugar and help
prevent peripheral neuropathy. Try to make physical activity
part of your daily routine. Thirty minutes of moderate
exercise, such as brisk walking, on most days of the week is
recommended. A combination of exercises ó aerobic exercises,
such as walking, biking or swimming on most days, combined
with resistance training, such as weightlifting or yoga twice
a week ó often helps control blood sugar more effectively
than either type of exercise alone.
healthy diet is important, too. Eat plenty of fruits,
vegetables, whole grains and legumes each day, and limit the
amount of food you eat that contains saturated fat. If you
have questions about your diet, talk to your health care
provider, or consider meeting with a dietitian who specializes
in working with people who have diabetes.
and diet also can help if you need to lose weight. If youíre
overweight, getting to and staying at a healthy body weight
can lower your blood sugar significantly, thus reducing your
risk of peripheral neuropathy.
smoke, stop. Smoking can affect your blood circulation and
raise your risk of developing peripheral neuropathy. If you're
having trouble quitting on your own, ask your health care
provider about smoking cessation options, including
medications to help you quit.
peripheral neuropathy can sometimes begin slowly with just
numbness in the feet, itís important that you are vigilant
about foot care. Check your feet daily for any cuts or other
injuries. Left unchecked, a small injury can turn into a major
infection. To avoid foot damage, be careful when you trim your
toenails, wear shoes that fit properly and donít go
notice any foot injuries or sores on your feet that do not
heal, make an appointment with your health care provider to
have them checked as soon as possible. Also, talk to your
health care provider right away if you notice any foot
numbness or pain. Early diagnosis and treatment of peripheral
neuropathy offer the best chance for controlling its symptoms
and preventing further damage to your