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Research Center

Foot Pain

04/26/2011

Question:

Hi, I`m 29 years old and I have diabetes. I have most of my sugars under control, but I have this real bad pain in my feet. They tingle, too. I also have Charley horses in my feet every night. Should I have my feet checked?

Answer:

The problems you describe in your feet could have a number of possible causes but diabetes would be high on the list of explanations. Tingling is a common problem with diabetic nerve problems (neuropathy). It is a long-term consequence of inadequate blood sugar control and can improve over the long-term with better sugar control. This symptom should be taken as a wake-up call to improve the blood sugars to prevent more serious complications, particularly foot injuries that may lead to infections and raise the risk of needing an amputation in the future. "Charley horse" is not the usual description of the discomfort that comes from diabetic neuropathy although that is a possibility. It is more likely to be due to an imbalance in an electrolyte in the blood like potassium. That is a more immediately dangerous problem and bears getting evaluated soon. I would strongly encourage that you see your doctor quickly about the Charley horses and that you see your doctor or nurse soon (but not as urgently) to evaluate your overall level of blood sugar control. It is important to see that you are setting the right goals for your blood sugars and have all the tools you need to accomplish that. Good luck! Please feel free to write back with further questions.

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Response by:

Robert M Cohen, MD Robert M Cohen, MD
Professor of Clinical Medicine
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati