Numbness and Tingling
One of the major complications of diabetes is neuropathy caused by nerve damage. Whilst nerve damage may not be obvious at early stages or without proper assessment, neuropathy can go undetected until it has gone worse which manifest through wound development unnoticed.
Some may present with symptoms such as pain, tingling and numbness. These are the usual early signs of neuropathy before a loss of feeling takes place. These sensations may occur in the hands, arms, legs and mostly in the feet; where it is the furthest part of the body.
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, about 60-70% of people have some form of neuropathy. It can develop at any time and the risk increases with age and duration of diabetes.
What can I do when I feel numbness and tingling sensation in my legs of feet?
As part of your diabetes management, you should be checking your feet at least once a year. The assessment should include checking your blood flow and nerve sensation to your feet. The assessment can be done by your endocrinologist, diabetes nurse or by a podiatrist. Based on international guidelines, podiatrist will be able to classify your diabetic foot risk based on these assessments and you will be advised accordingly on how to look after your feet.
Some of the symptoms to look out for, and they may be more common at night
- Numbness or insensitivity to pain or temperature
- A tingling, burning, or prickling sensation
- Sharp pains or cramps
- Extreme sensitivity to touch, even light touch
- Loss of balance and coordination
As the presentation of neuropathy varies, it is, therefore, everyone’s treatment and management plan are different. In general, the following are the some of the things to look out for and what to do if you experience tingling and numbness sensation in your foot or legs.
- Consult your endocrinologist, making note of your blood glucose control, and your doctor may also supplement you with some vitamins and medications to reduce symptoms associated with neuropathic discomfort
- Consult a podiatrist for a comprehensive diabetic foot screening – including vascular and neurological assessments
- Be sure to follow up your assessments as advised as changes may take place and there are various kinds of neuropathies – mono-peripheral neuropathy, and poly-peripheral neuropathy
- Once your risk status has been determined – follow your podiatrist’s advice on looking after your foot condition. This may include advice on footwear and offloading techniques such as diabetic insoles
At the Singapore Diabetic Foot Centre, all people with diabetes go through a comprehensive diabetic foot assessment. The Acute Care team of podiatrists will advise the frequency of assessments according to your risk status, and any management needed will be tailored accordingly.