Approximately half of people with diabetes will develop nerve damage in the feet (and sometimes, the legs) resulting in symptoms ranging from numbness, weakness in the toes, and difficulty walking, to burning, tingling, and a pins-and-needles sensation. Unfortunately, this condition, known as diabetic neuropathy, isn’t reversible, and the treatments we have available usually can’t completely eliminate the pain. That said, there are medications that may help make the pain more manageable, and ways of reducing the risks of problems associated with numbness, such as infections, ulcerations, and falls.
You can learn more by reading my latest Reader’s Question column.
Thank-you to the interviewees for their help: Dr. Vera Bril, who is now director of the Neuromuscular Section at the University of Toronto, Neurology; and occupational therapist Mandy Shintani, who spoke to me on behalf of Diabetes Canada. (Also, my apologies to Mandy: due to an error on my part, her surname is spelled incorrectly in the story.)