Over a long period of time high blood glucose levels can cause damage to different areas of your body and this includes your feet and legs.

One of the main problems that high blood glucose levels can lead to is damage to your nerves. This happens for two main reasons. Firstly, high blood glucose levels can directly cause damage to the nerves themselves. Secondly they can cause damage to the small blood vessels that supply your nerves with the nutrients and oxygen they need. The nerves in your body that are most likely to be affected are the longest ones – those that have to reach all the way to your feet and legs. Damage to your nerves is the most likely cause of foot problems if you have diabetes.

The other important reason why some people with diabetes develop foot problems is because the blood supply to their feet and legs is poor.

Nerve Changes

The nerves in your body carry messages to and from your brain which make it possible for you to feel things and move. For example, your nerves would carry a message from your foot to your brain if you stood on a drawing pin telling you it hurts. Your brain would then send a message back to your foot telling it to move.

There are different kinds of nerves which do different jobs:

  • Sensory nerves carry messages from your skin and bones to your brain and allow you to feel things like pain, heat and cold and pressure.
  • Motor nerves send messages from your brain to the rest of your body telling it how and when to move.
  • Autonomic nerves carry messages to parts of your body like your organs and control things that you aren’t even aware of, like the beating of your heart, the flow of blood around your body and sweating.

Diabetes can damage any of these nerve systems, which stops important messages getting to and from your brain. This damage is called neuropathy. When neuropathy affects your feet it can lead to the following:

  • Damage to your sensory nerves can mean that you start to lose sensation in your feet, so you are less able to feel pain, changes in temperature, pressure and touch.
  • Damage to motor nerves can affect the muscles in your feet which can cause changes to the shape of your feet.
  • Damage to your autonomic nerves can reduce the amount of sweat that your feet produce, which will make your skin very dry. It can also affect the flow of blood to the surface of the skin on your feet making them look red and feel hot.

Read more about peripheral neuropathy  • here •

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