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High glucose (sugar) levels cause damage to the small blood vessels supplying the hands and feet (peripheral neuropathy). Damage to the nerves leads to numbness and lack of sensation. As a result it is possible that you may not feel injuries to the hands, legs or feet.

Lack of sensation can be dangerous, as cuts and minor injuries can be overlooked because 'they don't hurt'. However, because it is not painful does not mean that the problem is not serious. At worst it can cause ulcers requiring hospitalisation or amputation.

All diabetics should have access to a podiatrist (chiropodist) and should receive a yearly examination of their feet. See the foot care leaflet.

Effects of diabetic neuropathy include

  • Lack of sensation
  • Lack of awareness of pain
  • Lack of awareness of hot and cold
  • Pins and needles
  • 'Burning' feelings
  • Shooting pains
  • Numbness

There are some tablets and creams which may ease pain and burning. Your doctor may prescribe these if your symptoms are troublesome.

Good control of your blood sugar level is essential to prevent nerve damage - always try to follow your doctor's guidelines.

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