Foot Care, part II

After just a miserable weekend, I had the worst night in years as my feet are obviously causing me a whole lot of stress and concern.

Having gotten good advice and friendly support, I will try and ask proper questions in hopes that someone can help me decide how to proceed. I was about to call and make an appt with my doctor, but lack of insurance, and lack of confidence that there is much he could do, caused me to stop, and call a few friends who have had diabetes for many years, and we talked about what I have been feeling in my toes, curious to know what they were ever told, and if they had problems.

First off, it may not even be due to the diabetes, and I understand that, but its new to me so I am curious as to what others have been told, or heard about.

All day yesterday, I tried my best to get my toes to warm up, to no avail. They were not numb, like a frostbite issue, just cold. I kept then near a heater (not too close ) and covered with blankets, and no help. I used my daughter’s foot massage machine with hot water and epsom salts, no help. Still cold to the touch. I massaged them until I couldn’t do it any more, and the toes simply would not warm up. No pain, no burning, no stabbing pain, and not numb as a poke to every one on the tip felt just like it should to me.

At bedtime, I was looking forward to the electric blanket, and it did very little so I slept with heavy socks and the blanket, and finally around 3AM I could tell they were warming up, but I sure wasn’t sleeping much :slight_smile:

Here is my question if anyone has an idea. When it comes to problems with circulation in the feet regarding diabetes, is there really anything that a physician can do about it? Any wonder drugs? I got the distinct feeling that I would be told to massage them, always wear socks (duh) and keep them warm, which is a no brainer, but hasn’t worked for me so far. The ball of my foot is uncomfortable, as are the toes this AM, although so far, they are warm.

I walked a mile on the treadmill, easy going, thinking that would help the circulation, but it is uncomfortable, not painful, on the toes and the ball of the big foot on both feet.

Bottom line is, I have been told by several friends that there really isn’t anything that can be done medically to improve the circulation in the toes, which I tend to think is valid. Infections, lesions, fungus, cuts, and all those things can be understood to need medicine of some type, but if the blood doesn’t circulate very well, what can modern medicine do about it? Thought I would wait another day or two and see how it feels if I walk on them more, and keep massaging them. Hopefully the discomfort is because of the cold in the toes, and will abate if I can get the blood to flow better. Why does this stuff always seems to happen around holidays, when its impossible to get to see the doctor anyway :slight_smile:

Of course, it could be anything, I am just loathe to go pay $100 to have a doctor tell me to massage my feet and keep them warm :slight_smile: so my question is, what have any of you ever been told, or have any of you even had this kind of episodes. My friends said they had burning and tingling, but I have neither. They had never come across just cold toes.

Aside from the cold, the discomfort is a bummer. It feels like walking on small rocks, not sharp and pointy making pain, but like rocks that are rounded and simply hard and pressing on the toes and joints. Tough to explain.

I know folks here aren’t doctors but maybe someone has been there, done that, and can help me know if there is really anything a doctor can do to help. One lady friend, older than I, and with T1 D for many many years, said no one ever did anything to arrest the circulation problems she had with her feet. They just gave her pain killers, and took off the toes one at a time, so at this moment, I am not confident that a neurologist or any specialist has any real cure for poor circulation.

Thought I would see if anyone agrees, or disagrees from experience or reading before dropping too much coin on the doctor, and as assumed referral to a neurologist.

Long post :slight_smile: Sorry, but thanks for reading


from a quick google search but they might be able to do something for some of the symptons but don’t think there is a cure

don’t know if it would be worth it or not for you to spend the $ but for me I think I would go see the doc

There are some things that you can do to help circulation. First, make sure that you are not compressing your feet. Check that you have not gotten new shoes that are ill fitting and are inadvertantly compressing blood flow. Make sure that your exercise regime is not causing compression. I was using the elliptical trainer and my feet were literally going to sleep. Exercise itself markedly helps circulation. If you do smoke, consider stopping, smoking can cause restrictions in your blood vessels. Check for swelling in your feet and treat appropriately. If you do suffer from swelling, that can cause these types of compression problems. Elevating your feet may help. Finally, you may find that soaking your feet helps. I really recommend sitting in the hot tub with a glass of red wine.

Hope that helps.

oh crud…I get this sometimes when I use my elliptical. am I really screwing my feet up?

Some circulatory problems can be helped, depending on the cause. Doesn’t sound like diabetic neuropathy, which feels different & wouldn’t have come on suddenly like this. Your friend’s condition, due to complications that we all dread, is a different situation. When there’s severe nerve damage, not much can be done.

My two cents is that it’s important to see a doc for a diagnosis. Also important for your piece of mind. This stress & worry is worse than eating a tray of brownies.

Wishing you toasty tootsie thoughts. Keep us posted.

P.S. Just thought of something else to warm your feet–cayenne pepper. The capsium (sp?) really gets the circulation going. Wonder if you could use a tiny amount for soaking .

Sounds like you might have the beginning of Neuropathy. I have had N for many years and finally got relief by learning to manage my Diabetes better. What you described are some of the symptoms. There is a website that I’ve referred to through the years that is very helpful regarding Neuropathy and other Diabetes complications.

I doubt you are screwing up your feet, but it sure feels funny. I found that I was tying my shoes too tight and I was planting my feet in the same position for far too long. I found that if I moved my feet every couple of minutes to a different position on the step, the problem went away.

Hi John,

Don’t know if this will help you, but thought I would toss in my two cents.

I too am encountering a combination of odd foot sensations. The doctors tell me that the pulses in my feet are very strong so neuropathy has been ruled out. However, after seeing a podiatrist, I have learned that I have a nueroma or inflammation of the nerves between the bones of the feet. This causes me to feel like I am walking around with golf balls taped to the bottom of my feet. With three separate cortizone injections several months apart(yes, my BG did go up the following day, even though the dr. insisted it wouldnt) and some custom orthotics I am now only walking on marbles. But my toes hurt - in a way that I dont have words for. They ache most of the time. Its not muscular because I stretch them but they dont improve. I have always walked on the outside of my feet (pronation??) and I think that it was just aggrivated by having high BG for a couple of years. The nerves in your feet lose their ability to sense where the bones are and they start moving around. I forget what its called at the moment. Google.

The skin on my feet is very sensitive to the touch and I have to have shoes or sandals on my feet at all times; molded footbeds are required. I cant really walk without them. I even have a pair that I wear in the shower. This has improved significantly as the internal swelling goes down.

My feet are also cold most of the time, especially in the winter. The three middle toes get cold first Fleece seems to help more than anything else and its soft on the feet. WalMart and KMart carry special socks for people with D. They are looser in the cuff and have other features to make your feet feel better/ less afflicted. For the winter I’ve taken to sleeping between two fleece blankets instead of sheets to get them warm. It works and they are warm in the morning, but it I step on the floor I can almost feel the heat being pulled out of my feet and they ache again.

I’ve recently learned about some of the foot creams with l-arginine and have been trying Healthifeet, but the results for me are mixed right now. I also think the stuff is expensive. The tubes are small and you can go through them pretty quickly.

I notice an improvement when I walk regularly and when I am diligent about keeping my BG under 100. (I’m still on the learning curve as far as finding foods that work for me and I spike more then I care to admit.)

Since this is an issue of inflammation I try to avoid things that will add to that. Mainly foods with salicates (sp?) Things that people with rheumatoid arthritis are told to avoid. I do drink coffee and Diet Coke, but notice an improvement when I go without for a couple of days.

Its not like resting them for a couple of days will make the pain go away either. It may lessen and my feet will feet stronger, but it never fully goes away. (I know this does not apply to you bit it all gets worse with PMS which adds to the theory that its inflammatory in nature.)

I’ve been seeing the podiatrist since March and my feet have improved dramatically. From the very beginning he’s been convinced the problem is bio-mechanical rather than diabetic. I agree with him, but can definately feel the swelling in my feet when I have a sugar spike. Its actually through my feet that I’ve been identifying them lately. I hate to admit this, but when my sugar goes high my feet finally feel warm. Talk about disincentive for tight BG control.

I too have had a hard time getting the information I have needed to address this problem and its been frustrating. I still dont know what the long term prognosis is. I feel like I am doing all I can but I dont think I will be able to have normal feeling feet again. And I cant get my primary or the podiatrist to commit to anything that would lead me to be optimistic.

I hope this helps you in some way.

p.s. I think they did warm up on their own some time in June :wink: No lie. They were warm all summer as I live in the desert and we get temps in the 100’s during the hottest months. I dont remember when they went cold again. Numbness only when I sit on my bum for too long, like eight hours on the weekend reading or watching DVD’s.

Good luck to you in resolving this issue.

When I had cold feet problems I found that wool socks were the best to keep my feet warm.

Everyone has been such a big help, no way I can thank you all personally, although I surely wish I could.

My shoes are very loose, I can’t conceive of getting my BGs any tighter unless I stop eating completely :slight_smile: I guess there is always room for improvement, but 140 is a number I never see anymore, and my A1c agrees with that so far.

I am perplexed at it showing up so quickly, as in all this discomfort and anguish in a matter of about three days, so I made an appt with my family doctor, as he gives me a break on the cost of a visit. I will tell him what is up, and expect that he will likely refer me to someone else, either a neurologist or a podiatrist, but I gotta start somewhere and can’t afford to just be willy nilly about it.

No pain, no tingling, just very uncomfortable. Pain is when someone drops something on your foot :slight_smile: I don’t have pain. Heck, all I want is an answer, and if I have to have it the rest of my few years here, and I know there is nothing I can do about it, I can put it aside and move on. Mostly, I just hate it when something is hurting or wrong, and I don’t know what it is, and if its okay to just ignore it. Kind of like the old football injuries. Sometimes you have to sit out so it doesn’t get worse,and other times, you can play without risking any more damage, and I could handle that kind of pain. Uncertainty hurts me more than pain from illness or injury.

From all the links given me, and that I have dug up, there is nothing that can be done but controlling the BGs, so I may have to learn to live with it I suppose some electric hunting socks would get me through the winter and maybe some wool socks. Gonna even try for the cayenne pepper, but at this moment, I can’t go outside to hit the stores, as the cold from the ground just wicks right up into my feet.

I have one of those vibrating things for the neck, that you can take the cube out of, and it helps the discomfort when I rub it along my feet. I just am not ready to spend 12 hours a day dealing with this. I need to find work, and that is hard to do when I can hardly walk around, and if I get a job, how on earth will I deal with this? Gotta keep the stress down, and relax… :slight_smile:

Christina gives me so hope that there is something else wrong that maybe can be diagnosed outside of the diabetes. When I was first DX’d, I thought, well, the numbers aren’t bad, and I got them down in a hurry, so on my list of things wrong in my life, diabetes was way down there, but suddenly, its at the top. The sensation of walking on marbles is a perfect description of what I feel.

Its winter here in Utah. Its cold. I used to keep the heat down, living alone, and I just kept a heater by my desk, so for all I know, my toes have always been cold in the winter, and something else is wrong with the feet. Pain relievers don’t seem to help, and usually cause damage elsewhere.

Either way, I am so grateful for everyone who has chimed in. I’ll take whatever I can get, and I appreciate all of your time and ideas.

Now looking forward to bed and the electric blanket to get them warm again :slight_smile:


Hey John,

Whatever happens, don’t let this get you down.

One thing that hasn’t been mentioned yet (but is probably obvious), is that once you do get into the Dr. to look at your feet, make sure you grill him or her until all your questions are answered. This applies doubly to the specialist if you end up there. You’re paying plenty for them to wait an extra minute and answer all your questions. You probably want to write down everything you want to ask before you go in, that way you don’t forget anything important.

Good luck, and let us know what you find out. :slight_smile:


When is your appt? Hope it’s soon. I can’t stand not knowing what’s going on either. Agree that it’s strange how this came on suddenly.

Not much, but happy to put some cayenne to you in the mail tomorrow. Msg me your address.

We’re all pulling for you!

Thank you. that is very kind of you to offer the help. I will hope my daughter shows up today and she can run out and get it. I think I will wait until after the dr appt before I use it tho. Not sure I want to explain red feet to him :slight_smile: Be seeing him on thursday. No expecting much. He is just a GP, and although I like him and trust him, he is not usually very helpful. Seems to just type in what I say, and wait for the search engine to come up with the right medicine to give me.

Last night and so far today, the cold is not an issue. I can live with cold feet. I know how to warm them up, but the discomfort which was so aptly described here for me, like walking on marbles, is just too much. Screws up my gait, which messes with my knees and my back. Those things, I can handle, just have to find out why it feels like there is nothing but raw bone on the bottom of front of my feet…

I feel better being able to talk here about it, plus it doesn’t bother me as much as it did the day it started. I am of the opinion that I may have neuropathy which accounts for the cold in the tips of the toes, but I am at a loss to explain the awful discomfort in the rest of the front half of the foot. That never goes away no matter how much heat, massage, or pain reliever I take. That is the one that is gonna cost me at the specialist, I am pretty sure, since there is no real cure for the cold feet, and that is about all my doctor is going to tell me, other than to name the specialists in the clinic I need to see. Either a neurologist, or a podiatrist.

Thanks to you and all who have listened and offered kind words. Very much obliged.


“Whatever happens, don’t let this get you down.”

Too late, but I thank you for the boost.

Everyone has problems and issues. I just think I have about reached the point where I can take no more. Be interesting to see if I have what it takes to persevere and carry on my life. I am getting tired.

Thanks Brett,


Know what you mean about this screwing up your gait. When I’ve had plantar fasciitis (lasted for weeks), I hobbled around & ended up with severe back pain. It’s hard to walk normally with this condition when every step feels like nails are being driven into your heel. I was lucky that I didn’t end up with bone spurs, which can happen.

Walking on marbles must be such a weird sensation.

Yea, red feet wouldn’t be a fun thing to explain to your doc, though quite festive for Christmas. Tell him you’re an elf & not that it was my idea:)

Cayenne has amazing heat. There are capsium creams that people use for arthritis pain because it delievers the heat quickly. Guess a person could mix a bit of cayenne with something thick like coconut oil or any lotion to make your own. I have put it a little in soaking water. Have to be careful with amount because it does burn, but it sure does get circulation going.

Hoping your doc has an ah-ha moment & knows what it is. Don’t let him just chalk this up to diabetes. Maybe it is, but maybe it isn’t & conditions get misdiagnosed.

Frustrating, so frustrating.

I know how you feel I’ve felt that way off and on, most of my life. I hope you will persvere. When I’ve thought that’s it I can’t go any further there is always something that pulls me back. Like the times that I get a phone call. Or the times that someone stops by and want to talk. Whatever it is I hope it happens for you…handg in there John.

Thanks Betty,

You have no idea how happy I am that people reach out to you, and that apparently somehow, there is someone or something there for you at that point in time when you need it most. Those people are angels, regardless of anyone’s faith or beliefs.

I think such angels take my “No Soliciting” sign to seriously… :frowning:


I look at life as a journey and at times an adventure and we never know where an adventure will lead us. I’ve been working on this journey since childhood and will continue until the end of the journey/adventure…wishing you the best.

Well, I know why your feet are cold. I live in Utah also. It got better for a few weeks, now it’s really cold agian.
Hope you found something to help you.