Diabetes can have profound effects upon the feet. Elevated sugar levels can result in damage to the fatty insulation (known as myelin) surrounding nerves that supply the feet. This may result in altered sensation to the feet with feelings such as tingling, shooting pains and complete numbness. This condition is known as neuropathy. In advanced stages, the inability to feel the foot can lead to holes in the feet, known as ulcers.
Besides nerve damage, diabetes can lead to a narrowing of the blood vessels that provide oxygen and nutrients to the feet. If neglected, this too can lead to limb loss. Your foot doctor will periodically assess your body’s ability to detect dangers to your foot by using a variety of simple, non-painful tests, including tuning fork and fine filament, to assess for neuropathy.
At your podiatric examination, your foot doctor can examine your pulses in your feet and determine whether or not to do an arterial Doppler. This is a simple non-invasive test using ultrasound to listen to and graph the blood flow going to your feet. Depending upon the results, a referral to a vascular specialist may be done to improve the blood flow to the feet and prevent limb loss.