Diabetic Foot Pain Symptoms

As you may have read in the news, the health impact of type 2 diabetes is climbing across the world.

Diabetic foot pain (podalgia) is quite varied but also very common. Care of your feet needs to be considered as part of your therapy by your doctors.

If your diabetes goes unchecked, it can cause a number of problems, affect your legs and feet, or sometimes leading to amputation. So catching any foot problems early is critical.

The American Diabetes Association recommend regular foot exams to help get an overview of your health and ensure you are not suffering from any feet related issues.

As a rule, the experience of diabetic foot pain can be divided into 8 different types:

  • Peripheral neuropathy.
  • Sensory Neuropathy.
  • Blood sugar.
  • Motor Neuropathy.
  • Autonomic Neuropathy.
  • Blood circulation problems.
  • Muscle and joint pain.
  • Infections of the feet.

This video explains more about Diabetic Neuropathy and highlights how nerve damage and loss of feeling can lead to the risk of foot problems.

In this case, this type 2 diabetes patient ended up with sores on her foot that needed urgent care and support from her family and doctors.

A cautionary tale of not checking your feet when you have diabetes.

1. Peripheral Neuropathy.

The main cause of feet pain in diabetics is nerve problems. This is known as peripheral neuropathy and researchers have identified that it affects around 60% of people with diabetes.

Diabetes results in damage to the nerves in your body, causing pain in your feet and other areas of your body.

This pain can be very severe and debilitating but this condition also causes numbness in your feet and toes (hypoesthesia) and increases the inability for you to feel pain – so it is very complicated.

Although there are drugs that can affect this problem, the signs of the underlying issue should be addressed first before anything else it looked at.

Unlike foot injuries caused by exercise, rest and ice will make no difference here.

2. Sensory Neuropathy.

Similar to the previous symptom is Sensory Neuropathy (hyperalgesia) where the nerve pain caused by touch. For example, you may notice that merely touching something may cause intense pain or contact with your skin may feel sensitive to touch if you have this form of pain.

Common issues are:

  • Burning sensations.
  • Sharp, shooting or stabbing pain.
  • Soreness.
  • Numb sensations.
  • Tingling or “pins and needles”.
  • Feeling like your feet are very hot or cold.
  • Problems putting socks and shoes on.
  • Problems with mobility or walking.

Even putting on socks can cause intense pain. You may find that damage to your nerves from the disease has caused this problem.

As with most nerve issues, numbness, tingling or burn and stabbing feelings are also frequent symptoms. Unfortunately, there is no direct cure for people with any problems surrounding the nervous system.

Drugs are available to help try and reduce pain, but taking care to lead a healthy lifestyle is promoted as the ideal way to ensure you can cope with these problems.

3. Blood sugar.

Despite being type 1 or type 2, you will know how important it is to track your blood sugar levels (glucose). If your readings are too high for a more extended period, it can cause issues and there can be a link to an increased risk of pain in your feet.

Make sure you are monitoring your blood glucose levels on a daily basis. There are blood test monitoring devices you can use at home to do these tests regularly.

iHealth Diabetes Testing Kit
  • iHealth Align Blood Glucose Monitoring System...
  • Proven Accuracy: Get highly accurate measurements...
  • Pocket-sized: Plug-in the iHealth Align Blood...
  • Thoughtful Design: Provide a silicone cover to...

Keeping a diary and keeping a notice on any new foot problems will improve your ability to spot trends or causes as they develop.

4. Motor Neuropathy.

The fourth issue that occurs is multifocal motor neuropathy (MMN).

This symptom is where you can develop a twitch or spasm, become weak and ache and cannot adequately receive messages from your nerves to make them work correctly.

Usually, your feet are not the first area to be affected. However, you may find that you increasingly have problems with control of your balance or your ability to walk.

This can cause damage to your feet and even add to the possibility that bones may be broken without being identified (due to the loss of nerve feelings).

5. Autonomic Neuropathy.

The fifth of the conditions is autonomic neuropathy. As the title suggests, this form of pain relates to automatic functions in you that you cannot directly control.

If you have this condition, you may find that your sweat glands are affected by the disease, causing blisters and dry or cracked skin on your feet.

As you might imagine, this could lead to further complications such as calluses which have a higher risk of causing issues.

If you are suffering from this as a result of being a diabetic, regular care and moisturising of your feet using diabetic foot creams is essential to keep them from becoming affected.

6. Blood circulation problems.

Another underlying symptom of your diabetes relates to reduced blood circulation, especially in your extremities such as your feet, which can lead to you experiencing extreme pain.

There are many treatments for this issue including medications, physical therapy or even surgery.

However, as this is one of the most common problems, your doctor will need to advise the best diet and care as your treatment will depend on your overall fitness levels.

Even drinking more water can help improve this problem.

7. Muscle and joint pains.

Cramp and joint pain from Diabetes can also be a factor that causes foot, ankle or heel problems and is very common.

This, along with other nerve-related problems such as MMN diabetes can cause you to start having problems standing or walking. These prevent you from leading an active lifestyle which can result in you gaining weight and losing mobility.

It might even be hard for you to put your shoes on, let alone go for a brisk walk!

This could be just pain due to problems with not being able to feel your feet properly due to nerve damage.

In most cases, this problem causes you not to walk correctly, which can lead to you having other foot conditions.

Again, seeking help with maintaining exercise with a doctor and physical therapist is important when you are a diabetic. They will work with you to ensure you remain as mobile as possible and avoid injury.

You also need to ensure your diet is healthy, that you are drinking enough water and that you are eating foods rich in nutrition and low in fat.

8. Infections of the feet.

Diabetes Mellitus causes significant changes which can lead to you to becoming more open to infections, sores or skin ulcers, even from just having hard skin, or blister on your toes.

It is possible that if hard skin is not cut away, infection occurs and affects your foot and as a result, your foot may become sore, swollen and red.

This may be accompanied by high temperature or fever.

These issues can be treated with medications but keeping your body healthy and your blood sugar in check should be your priority at all times.

Not only to keep your body fighting fit to prevent any infections but as a way to help manage diabetes.

The worst case scenario is that your infections cannot be treated or become too severe and the only option is amputation of the limb.

Advice for dealing with diabetic foot pain symptoms.

I hope you found this guide and overview helpful when looking at some of the issues associated with your feet and diabetes care.

With diabetic foot disease being recognised through research as one of the top 10 causes of disability, ensuring that you talk to your doctor about your health regularly is very important.

Ensure that your care and treatment is regularly reviewed by your doctors and care team throughout the year. If problems are spotted early, it will be easier to prevent or treat going forward.

When you experience pain, you need to think about how you can ask for support and deal with the pain and relieve your foot pain symptoms.

Simply massaging your feet to raise the temperature when they are sore, ensuring that blood is not cut off and flowing effectively from your heart to your extremities and they are warmed up will help with nerve damage.

This video guide shows how you can massage your lower legs and feet to help treat loss of feeling due to neuropathy.

Simple massage techniques can help with blood flow and nerve pain.

Wearing supporting shoes will also help keep your feet and toes are in good condition and will help reduce any additional stresses or strains that might trigger other problems.

Obviously, if you are in any doubt about your health, your diabetes or if there are signs of your feet being affected, please contact a doctor as soon as possible.

4 thoughts on “Diabetic Foot Pain Symptoms”

  1. I have had type 2 diabetes for about 15 years. My blood sugar goes from extremely high to extremely low at times. Lately I have had a swollen left big toe and pain like an electrical current running through my foot. Is this serious? My foot pad is also tender and sore.

    • Hi Michael. I am not a doctor, but it sounds like the electrical pain may be related to nerve pain – unless you have broken or fractured your toe somehow? Nerve problems can also lead to your feet being sore or sensitive too. However, if your toe is swollen, it could be altering the way you are walking, putting more pressure on certain parts of your foot and causing pain. Simple answer – get to the doctor asap. You might just have a sprain or fracture that needs treating or it could be a sign that there are nerve problems in your feet, which is not uncommon for diabetes sufferers.

    • Check out Dr Jason Fung. He wrote the book “The Diabetes code” He also has a online plan that can reverse diabetes and get you off meds.


Leave a Comment