Diabetes may affect your feet in a number of ways. One of the early changes can be loss of sensation (peripheral neuropathy) in your feet, often starting at the toes. Your chances of losing feeling in your feet (neuropathy) increases with the number of years that you have diabetes and research suggests that up to one in three people with diabetes have some loss of sensation. The onset of neuropathy is gradual and often people who develop this complication are unaware of it at the start. Often it occurs between 7 and 10 years of having diabetes, although in some cases it can occur sooner where blood sugar levels have not been so well controlled. Very occasionally pain or a burning sensation may accompany loss of feeling (painful neuropathy).
Additionally, when the nerves in your feet are affected, other changes may follow, for example, your toes may start to claw and the bones in your feet can become more susceptible to fractures.
Another change that can occur is reduced blood flow to your feet. Diabetes may also affect your ability to heal and reduce your natural ability to fight bacteria. Consequently, you should take particular care of any scratches, cuts or blisters on your feet.
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