Synergy Health Partners

Diabetic Foot Pain

Diabetic foot is a term used to describe foot problems that can occur in people with diabetes. About 60 to 70 percent of diabetics are affected by this condition.

What Is Diabetic Foot?

If a doctor has ever said you had an elevated blood sugar level – even just once when you were pregnant – you are at risk for developing diabetes. One of the major complications of diabetes is nervous system impairment (neuropathy) that may cause you to lose feeling in your feet or hands. Diabetes also decreases your blood flow. Neuropathy and decreased blood flow means you may not know right away if you hurt yourself and injuries take a lot longer to heal. As a diabetic, infections may also spread quickly. Even a small blister from wearing a shoe that’s too tight can end up causing a serious wound or infection. If you have diabetic foot and find an injury — no matter how slight — don’t try to treat it yourself. Go to a doctor right away.

What are the symptoms of diabetic foot pain?

  • Numbness or tingling (neuropathy)
  • Burning or shooting pain
  • Swelling or inflammation
  • Foot ulcers or sores
  • Calluses or corns
  • Joint deformities
  • Cramps or muscle tightness
  • Skin changes

How Is Diabetic Foot Treated?

A multidisciplinary team approach involving healthcare professionals such as podiatrists, endocrinologists, and wound care specialists is often necessary for optimal management and prevention of further complications.


Conservative Treatments

  • Proper footwear: Wearing well-fitting, supportive shoes with good cushioning can help reduce pressure on the feet and alleviate pain.
  • Foot care: Regular foot inspections, proper hygiene, and moisturizing can prevent further complications and reduce discomfort.
  • Offloading: Using special shoes, casts, or braces to redistribute weight and reduce pressure on painful areas.
  • Analgesics: Over-the-counter or prescription pain relievers, such as acetaminophen, NSAIDs, or opioids, can help alleviate pain.
  • Neuropathic pain medications: Specific medications like gabapentin, pregabalin, or duloxetine may be prescribed to manage neuropathic pain.

Advanced Treatments

  • Wound care: For foot ulcers or sores, advanced wound care techniques like debridement, dressings, and negative pressure wound therapy may be necessary.
  • Antibiotics: If foot ulcers or infections are present, oral or intravenous antibiotics may be prescribed to control the infection.
  • Surgical interventions: In severe cases, surgical procedures like foot or toe amputations, bone reconstructions, or revascularization (improving blood flow) may be required to address the underlying cause and prevent further complications.

Additional Therapies

  • Physical therapy: Exercises, gait training, and assistive devices prescribed by a physical therapist can help improve mobility and reduce foot pain.

  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS): This non-invasive therapy uses low-voltage electrical currents to alleviate neuropathic pain.

  • Orthotic devices: Custom-made foot orthotics or braces can provide support, redistribute pressure, and correct foot deformities, reducing pain.

Why Choose Synergy Health?

Synergy Health Partners is Michigan’s only integrated musculoskeletal care provider, offering a comprehensive and coordinated approach to your well-being. We provide all specialty fields of musculoskeletal care under one umbrella, including urgent care centers staffed by orthopedic specialists, surgical and non-surgical treatments performed in-office or at our state-of-the-art ambulatory surgery centers, virtual consultations, and an in-house pharmacy for added convenience.

Find A Doctor

At Synergy Health Partners, our doctors are affiliated with the best hospitals in Michigan. We continuously research technologies and treatments – both surgical and non-invasive – to offer our patients access to the most advanced and proven medical care.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you have diabetes, you should inspect your feet every day. Look for puncture wounds, bruises, pressure areas, redness, warmth, blisters, ulcers, scratches, cuts and nail problems. Get someone to help you, or use a mirror. Feel each foot for swelling. Examine between your toes. Check six major locations on the bottom of each foot: The tip of the big toe, base of the little toes, base of the middle toes, heel, outside edge of the foot and across the ball of the foot. Check for sensation in each foot.

Here’s some basic advice for taking care of your feet:

  • Wash your feet every day with mild soap and warm water. Test the water temperature with your hand first. Don’t soak your feet. When drying them, pat each foot with a towel and be careful between your toes.
  • Use quality lotion to keep the skin of your feet soft and moist – but don’t put any lotion between your toes.
  • Trim your toenails straight across. Avoid cutting the corners. Use a nail file or emery board. If you find an ingrown toenail, see your doctor.
  • Don’t use antiseptic solutions, drugstore medications, heating pads or sharp instruments on your feet. Don’t put your feet on radiators or in front of the fireplace.
  • Always keep your feet warm. Wear loose socks to bed. Don’t get your feet wet in snow or rain. Wear warm socks and shoes in winter.
  • Don’t smoke or sit cross-legged. Both decrease blood supply to your feet.
  • Never walk barefoot or in sandals or thongs.
  • Choose and wear your shoes carefully. Buy new shoes late in the day when your feet are larger.
  • Buy shoes that are comfortable without a “breaking in” period. Check how your shoe fits in width, length, back, bottom of heel and sole. Avoid pointed-toe styles and high heels. Try to get shoes made with leather upper material and deep toe boxes. Wear new shoes for only two hours or less at a time. Don’t wear the same pair everyday. Inspect the inside of each shoe before putting it on. Don’t lace your shoes too tightly or loosely.
  • Choose socks and stockings carefully. Wear clean, dry socks every day. Avoid socks with holes or wrinkles. Thin cotton socks are more absorbent for summer wear. Square-toes socks will not squeeze your toes. Avoid stockings with elastic tops.

This is one of the most serious foot problems you can face. It warps the shape of your foot when your bones fracture and disintegrate, and yet you continue to walk on it because it doesn’t hurt.

A doctor may treat your diabetic foot ulcers and early phases of Charcot fractures with a total contact cast. The shape of your foot molds the cast. It lets your ulcer heal by distributing weight and relieving pressure. If you have Charcot foot, the cast controls your foot’s movement and supports its contours if you don’t put any weight on it. To use a total contact cast, you need good blood flow in your foot. Your doctor monitors it carefully. The cast is changed every week or two until your foot heals.

A custom-walking boot is another way to treat your Charcot foot. It supports the foot until all the swelling goes down, which can take as long as a year. You should keep from putting your weight on the Charcot foot. Surgery is considered if your deformity is too severe for a brace or shoe.

Don't Let Diabetic Foot Pain Take
The Spring Out Of Your Step

Diabetic foot pain can significantly impact your quality of life, but you don’t have to suffer in silence. Our team of experienced podiatrists and foot care specialists understands the unique challenges posed by diabetes and is dedicated to providing you with the personalized care you deserve.