Lee’s Summit Podiatrist Dr. Joel Foster Discusses How Diabetic Neuropathy Causes Nerve Pain in the Feet and What Treatments Can Help
Diabetic neuropathy is a type of nerve damage that can worsen over time if it is not promptly addressed. Controlling your blood sugar and proactively working with Lee’s Summit podiatrist Dr. Joel Foster is the best way to address nerve pain in your feet and improve your overall quality of life.
How Does Diabetes Cause Nerve Pain?
Diabetic neuropathy is caused by uncontrolled blood sugar. Elevated glucose levels can damage the nerves over time.
The pain associated with diabetic neuropathy is often described as a tingling, burning, stabbing, or shooting sensation. This nerve pain can generally be attributed to one or more of the following factors:
- Nerve compression. Nerves in the body can become compressed. Due to the accumulation of glucose and other metabolic byproducts, the outer nerve tissue will swell. Because the nerves run through small and sometimes tight channels, this swelling causes the nerves to be compressed.
- Inflammation. Chronic inflammation can disrupt the normal functioning of nerves. Also, just as swelling of the nerves causes compression and inflammation, swelling of tissue surrounding the nerves causes nerve channels to close, which will impinge the nerves and alter their function.
- Poor blood flow. Poor blood circulation can deprive nerves of the necessary nutrients and oxygen, leading to nerve damage and pain.
- Autoimmune reactions. In some cases, the immune system may mistakenly attack nerve cells in individuals with diabetes—causing further damage and pain.
- Vitamin deficiencies. A lack of appropriate vitamins can hinder the nerve's natural healing response. Both poor nutrition or the negative side effects of some diabetic medications can result in vitamin deficiencies that can have a negative impact on nerve function.
Why Does Nerve Pain Occur Most Often in the Feet?
Your body’s peripheral nervous system includes nerves that extend throughout the body all the way to your hands and feet. Nerve damage due to diabetes typically affects the peripheral nerves first, which is why symptoms are often felt in your extremities. (This is also why you may sometimes see diabetic neuropathy referred to as peripheral neuropathy.)
Other factors that can explain why nerve-related foot pain is common in people with diabetes include:
- Distance from the spinal cord. Your feet are the farthest from your spinal cord, where sensory nerve signals originate and are processed. Nerve signals must travel a long distance and run through many small channels to reach your feet. This can make them more susceptible to compression, damage or disruptions in signal transmission.
- Nerve branching. The nerves in your feet have many branches, making them more susceptible to damage over time because they are exposed to more potential sources of injury or disruption.
- Sensory function. Your feet are highly sensitive and have numerous sensory receptors, which makes any nerve damage or dysfunction more noticeable in terms of sensations like tingling, burning, or pain.
How Can Dr. Foster Help With Painful Diabetic Neuropathy Symptoms?
If you’re struggling with painful neuropathy symptoms, one option that has been very successful for diabetic patients in our Lee’s Summit office is Neurogenx. A non-narcotic, non-invasive, and non-surgical treatment for peripheral neuropathy in the feet, Neurogenx delivers an electronic signal deep into the body's tissues via adhesive electrode patches. This signal increases cellular metabolism, normalizes pH levels, eliminates excess fluids and waste products responsible for swelling, and promotes the healing process. Sessions are conducted over a 12-week period and can be combined with other treatments such as vitamin or nutritional supplements, laser therapy, or local injections. Neurogenx is FDA-approved and highly effective, with 87 percent of patients reporting a substantial reduction in symptoms. Since we use a direct-pay model for our office, you are free to choose Neurogenx to treat diabetic neuropathy symptoms without worrying about the limitations of your health insurance coverage.
Custom orthotics can also help people with diabetic neuropathy reduce their pain by providing better support and reducing pressure on the feet. Our Better Feet package makes custom orthotics an affordable and convenient treatment option for people with painful diabetic neuropathy. The Better Feet package includes an initial comprehensive office visit with onsite X-rays of both feet, an ultrasound of both feet to visualize the plantar fascial band, a pair of heat-molded orthotics, and a pair of custom-calibrated orthotics for one flat fee.
Maintaining control of your blood sugar levels is essential to slowing the progression of diabetic neuropathy and preventing further nerve damage. This involves adhering to a diabetes management plan, including medication, insulin, dietary changes, and regular monitoring of blood glucose levels. Dr. Foster can work with your primary care physician, endocrinologist, and other health care providers to ensure you have access to a comprehensive diabetes management plan that promotes foot health.