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Diabetic Foot Pain

What causes diabetic foot pain?

People with diabetes have a high risk of developing foot pain due to two conditions called peripheral neuropathy and peripheral arterial disease.

Peripheral neuropathy (diabetic neuropathy)

When diabetes isn’t kept under control, your blood sugar levels stay persistently high. High blood sugar gradually damages the nerves in your feet, a condition called peripheral neuropathy.

Peripheral neuropathy may diminish the sense of touch in your feet and cause numbness or sensations such as tingling. However, nerve damage also causes burning, aching, and sharp pain.

Neuropathic pain may be worse at night, causing such intense pain that it disrupts your sleep. You may also feel pain in response to a light touch that’s normally painless.

Peripheral arterial disease (PAD)

PAD occurs when cholesterol plaque builds up in a leg vein, a condition called atherosclerosis. As the plaque gets larger and blocks the flow of blood, your skin, muscles, and other tissues are deprived of oxygen and nutrients.

A classic symptom of PAD is leg pain when you walk that feels better when you rest. Other symptoms may include:

Leg fatigue or heaviness

Leg numbness

Skin rashes

Painful leg swelling

Poor nail growth

Thick, reddish-brown skin

Slow-healing vascular ulcers

Hair loss or slow hair growth on the leg

Your risk of PAD significantly increases if you have diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol.

What complications might develop if I have diabetic foot pain?

Diabetic foot pain is a red flag telling you to seek help. By the time diabetes progresses enough to cause foot pain, your blood sugar has been high for a long time. That means you’re at high risk for PAD and complications such as:

Non-healing diabetic foot ulcers

Non-healing arterial ulcers

Critical limb ischemia

Skin and bone infections


These are all serious complications that cause tissue death or extensive infections that ultimately require amputation.

How is diabetic foot pain treated?

Treating diabetic foot pain takes a multimodal approach that includes managing your blood sugar and treating PAD. Dr. Nirav Patel specializes in limb salvage, which means he takes every possible step to save a foot that would otherwise need an amputation.

Limb salvage encompasses therapies such as:

Infection control

Wound debridement

Advanced dressings and tissue substitutes

Offloading to eliminate pressure

Endovascular procedures

Limb salvage surgery

Limb reconstruction If you suffer from diabetic foot pain, don’t wait to seek medical care. Call Premier Vascular or book an appointment online today.

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