What is Diabetic Neuropathy? | Singapore Diabetic Foot Centre
Interviewee – Dr Michael Lai, Principal Podiatrist at Singapore Diabetic Foot Centre (SDFC)
Interviewer – Jolie Tay ( @jolietay on Instagram )
Elevated blood glucose levels in a diabetic eventually cause the development of nerve damage throughout the body. Early nerve damage may not have any obvious symptoms. As it worsens, a diabetic may experience burning pain, loss of tactile sensation, or tingling in the feet and hands.
Diabetic neuropathy is a family of nerve disorders caused by diabetes. There are different types of diabetic neuropathy; one of them is peripheral sensory neuropathy. It is a very common complication of diabetes and can lead to numbness, abnormal sensation, and constant pain. Diabetic peripheral neuropathy usually first appears in the feet and lower legs and may occur later in the hands.
People with diabetic peripheral neuropathy may find that they start losing their balance or have difficulty walking without wobbling. At this stage, wearing orthopaedic shoes or diabetic shoes may help. A walking aid (cane or frame) may be needed.
Bone deformity of the feet may also occur. This is due to the weight redistribution from walking abnormally as well as the impairment of sensorimotor nerve function which affects the leg and feet muscles.
Podiatrists would design diabetic custom orthotics to support the diabetic foot, protecting it from further deformity.
Annual diabetic foot screenings are highly recommended for diabetic patients to check their feet for any signs of nerve damage, lack of sensation and undetected diabetic wounds and ulcers. The podiatrists will also conduct a blood flow assessment and provide regular reminders on diabetic foot care. Nail trimming and debridement services on diabetic feet should only be performed by qualified podiatrists.
Michael Lai is an American DPM ( Doctor of Podiatric Medicine ) who graduated from the New York College of Podiatric Medicine in 1999. From 1999 to 2007, he worked and trained as a resident doctor in various major hospitals and clinic centres in the USA: The Foot Clinics of New York, St. John’s Episcopal Hospital, St. Vincent’s Catholic Medial Centre, and the VA New Jersey Health Care System. He also trained in a surgical fellowship under distinguished Podiatric professors at the Yale University School of Medicine.
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