Diabetic peripheral neuropathy is a complication that could come along with diabetes. So many millions are living with diabetes and the number is still rising. In fact, it is expected to rise to more than 25 million Americans by 2010.
Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy can lead to foot ulcers which sometimes will require amputation. While before the recommendation of scientists and physicians is for those with foot ulcers to stay off their feet, now there is a new graduated walking program where these people can participate and therefore prevent some illnesses that could threaten life.
Due to numbness or loss of feeling in the foot, diabetic peripheral neuropathy is a nerve disorder that affects the feet and the legs. It leads to pain and ulceration. Ulcers could be the result because of loss of muscle. This exposes the bones to a lot of pressure under the foot.
Doctors recommend exercise for the diabetics because there has been proof that it lessens the mortality risk as well as the occurrence of a cardiovascular disease. Joseph LeMaster who is University of Missouri's associate professor of community and family medicine said that type 2 diabetics can increase their mortality risk by 39% and their risk for cardiovascular disease by 34% if they do not do some form of exercise of moderate intensity regularly.
The diabetics are known to be less active than the regular population and those with diabetic peripheral neuropathy are found to be even less physically active. So in a study at the University of Missouri, LeMaster checked the effects of exercise involving the lower extremity and walking program on the development of diabetic foot ulcer.
Here's how he did it. He assigned the diabetic subjects with this nerve condition into two groups. One group was monitored often and given exercises to strengthen the legs and a walking program that was graduated. In addition, this group received a telephone call every two weeks to motivate them. The other group is the control group. Both groups received eight sessions with a physical therapist and also some form of diabetic foot care education.
What did LeMaster find? He observed an increase in the total of foot lesions and ulcers during the first six months. But guess what he found after a year? Drum roll, please! The number of foot lesions and ulcers has started to go down in the first group compared to the control group. This shows that the risk has gone down too.
What is the moral lesson of this finding? Since weight-bearing exercise did not result in in increase of foot ulcers, it follows that this type of exercise should be safe for diabetics provided the walking program is closely supervised by a medical professional and that they have no ulcers at the start and have appropriate footwear. This type of exercise therefore is recommended for those with diabetic peripheral neuropathy.