Washington, Oct 26 : Burning, tingling or numbness in the feet and toes could be the first symptoms of diabetes, according to physicians with the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons.
Foot and ankle surgeons say those symptoms may be caused by a condition called diabetic peripheral neuropathy, or nerve damage.
Neuropathy in the feet can lead to permanent numbness, deformities such as bunions and hammertoes, and dry skin that cracks open and won't heal.
"Diabetic peripheral neuropathy is not only painful but dangerous. It's a leading contributor to foot ulcers in people with diabetes," said Boston foot and ankle surgeon John M. Giurini, DPM, FACFAS, president of the 6,000-member surgeons' association.
Burning, tingling and numbness in the toes can also be symptoms of thyroid problems, nutritional deficiencies, back problems and pinched nerves in the ankles. ut of the 23 million Americans with diabetes, one in four hasn't been diagnosed.
According to FootPhysicians.com, even diabetic patients who have excellent blood sugar control can develop diabetic neuropathy.
Medications can treat neuropathy pain but nerve damage cannot be reversed.
"When you have diabetes, and especially diabetic neuropathy, a minor cut on your foot can turn into a catastrophe. The statistics on diabetic ulcers are sobering," said Giurini.