Diabetic patients can look forward to lower chance of developing foot pain or other nerve damage in the future, if they keep their blood sugar today in control.
Two third of the diabetic population has the tendency to acquire nerve problem or neuropathy and the most common symptoms seen are numbness and pain in legs or feet, over the time which can lead to disability.
Epidemiology of Diabetes Intervention and Complications (EDIC), that grew out of the national Diabetes Control and Complications Trial (DCCT), had randomly assigned people with type1 diabetes to either using insulin injections or insulin pump. The latter group was later encouraged to adopt tight blood sugar control, and the EDIC study tracked all patients’ health.
Apart from Neuropathy, similar findings have been made for other complications of diabetes, retinopathy (eye disease) and nephropathy (kidney disease).
The symptoms and signs were assessed using a standardized questionnaire developed and validated by University of Michigan researchers from the Michigan Diabetes Research and Training Center. The questionnaire is completed by patients, who report symptoms such as tingling, pain, numbness, and sensitivity, and by physicians, who complete a physical examination of the patient’s feet, including sensitivity to touch and vibration, and the presence of calluses and sores.
Such foot problems can later become infected and lead to open wounds that can be hard to heal because of other aspects of diabetes. Unhealed infections, if bad enough, can lead to the stage of amputating toes, feet and legs. This “domino effect” starting with neuropathy and leading to infection and amputation is the reason that current guidelines call for people with diabetes to have annual foot examinations done.
In all, the results reinforce a key message to all diabetes patients, though Type 2 diabetics tend to have other health problems that can interfere with the protective effects of tight sugar control. That message: Check your blood sugar levels regularly, and take steps to keep them under tight control, with few extremes of low or high sugar.