Diabetic Foot Pain Symptoms

Diabetic Foot Pain Symptoms

Written by: Tao Schencks - Updated

Diabetic foot pain symptoms are quite varied and there are many reasons why you might suffer from foot pain, from poor footwear to underlying problems with your muscle or bone structures.

However, if you also have diabetes, foot pain can be a very common side effect.

As a general rule, diabetic foot pain can be divided into eight different types.

  1. Peripheral neuropathy.
  2. Sensory Neuropathy.
  3. Blood sugar levels.
  4. Motor Neuropathy.
  5. Autonomic Neuropathy.
  6. Blood circulation problems.
  7. Muscle and joint pains.
  8. Infections of the feet.

1. Peripheral Neuropathy.

The most commonly found cause of foot pain in diabetics is related to nerve problems. This is known as peripheral neuropathy and affects around 60% of people who have diabetes. The diabetes cause damage to the nerves in the body, causing pains in the feet and other areas of the body.

This pain can be very severe and debilitating for the sufferer. On the flip side, this condition also causes numbness in the feet or causes the inability to feel pain - so it is very complex.

Although there are drugs that can treat this kind of foot pain, the underlying issue should be addressed first before anything else it looked at. Unlike foot injuries related to exercise, rest and ice will make no difference here.

2. Sensory Neuropathy.

Similar to the previous symptom is Sensory Neuropathy, where the pain is more directly related to touch. For example, diabetics who are suffering from this may find that simply touching something may cause intense pain.

Even putting on socks can be intensely painful. People who have diabetes may find that damage to their nerves caused by the disease has caused sensory neuropathy symptoms.

As with most nerve related issues, numbness, tingling or burning and stabbing pains are also very common symptoms. Unfortunately, there is no direct cure for any issues surrounding the nervous system.

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

3. Blood sugar levels.

As a diabetic, you will know how important it is to track your blood sugar levels. If your levels are too high for a longer period of time, there can be a link to foot and heel pain.

Make sure you are monitoring your blood sugar levels on a daily basis.  There are blood sugar level testing devices (Glucometer) you can use at home to do this regularly.

You may find that it is a good idea to keep a chart and try to spot where your feet are more painful and identify any sort of trend.

4. Motor Neuropathy.

The fourth issue that can cause painful feet in diabetes suffers is motor neuropathy.

This symptom is where your muscles become weak and ache and cannot effectively receive messages from the nerves to make them work correctly.

Usually, the feet are not the first to be affected as they contain smaller muscles. However, once affected, the diabetic sufferer may find that they have problems with balance.

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

The ideal way to try to combat motor neuropathy is to try to keep as healthy as possible, exercising when possible and regularly stretching your muscles.

5. Autonomic Neuropathy.

The fifth of the conditions that cause diabetic foot pain symptoms is autonomic neuropathy. As the title suggests, this relates to automated functions in your body that you cannot directly control.

For example, a diabetic with this condition may find that their sweat glands are affected by the disease, causing dry of cracked skin on your feet.

As you might imagine, this could be very painful and lead to further complications such as calluses.

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

6. Blood circulation problems.

Another underlying symptom of diabetes relates to reduced blood circulation throughout the body, especially the extremities such as the feet, causing extreme pain.

There are a number of treatments for this issue including medication, physical therapy or even surgery.

However, as this is one of the most common diabetic symptoms, your doctor will need to advise the best course of action to take as the treatment will depend on your overall fitness levels.

7. Muscle and joint pains.

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

This, along with other nerve problems such as motor neuropathy can cause the sufferer to start having problems walking.

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

In most cases, this problem causes the sufferer to not walk properly, leading to other foot conditions such as bunions or corns.

8. Infections of the feet.

People who suffer from diabetes are going through major changes in their body. The changes can lead to them becoming more open to infections.

It is possible that an infection may be caught and attack the foot, which can become infected.

As a result, your foot may become painful, swollen and red. These issues can be treated with medicines but keeping your body healthy and your blood sugar levels in check should be your priority at all times.

Not only to keep your body fighting fit to stop any infections, but as a general rule to help fight diabetes.

General advice for dealing with diabetic foot pain symptoms.

When foot pain strikes, you need to think about how you can deal with the pain and relieve your foot pain symptoms. Luckily, there are a number of ways this can be achieved with little to no cost and can be done at home.

Simply massaging your feet when they are sore, ensuring that blood is flowing and they are warmed up will help with nerve related pains.

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


    Hi, my name is Tao and I suffer from Plantar Fasciitis in both of my feet. My goal is to share information, tips, symptoms, exercises and remedies on this website for others. I am not a doctor or podiatrist, so make sure to read my medical disclaimer page.

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