Looks funny on your feet

Diabetic foot: warning signs & symptoms

warning sign

A neuropathically damaged foot is manifested by abnormal sensations or numbness in the legs and toes. Especially at night and in the warmth, the patient suffers from a numb feeling, "pins and needles", burning or stabbing pain. In addition, the feeling for warmth, cold, pain and pressure is lost. Therefore, injuries to the foot are often noticed very late If the blood circulation is restricted, any wounds will heal even more slowly.

In addition, excessively dry skin is particularly noticeable, because the nerve damage reduces sweat production. Since the skin of the foot is normally slightly moist and supple, dry skin indicates the beginning of damage to the nerve tract. Strong calluses on pressure points are also very suspicious.

The first signs of a circulatory disorder in the legs, which can lead to gangrene, are pain when walking, especially in the calves. The symptoms usually improve within a few minutes after rest breaks. This is why one speaks of the so-called intermittent claudication.

The "pain-free walking distance" is a measure of the severity of the circulatory disorder. If this is less than 200 meters, or if the pain already occurs at rest, the blood circulation is seriously disturbed.

Symptoms of the diabetic foot

The symptoms of a diabetic foot vary from person to person. Most diabetics with diabetic foot syndrome suffer from either nerve damage (neuropathically damaged foot), circulatory disorders (gangrenous foot), or a combination of both.

Neuropathic foot and Charcot foot

In a neuropathically damaged foot, the sole of the foot is almost always damaged, usually in the forefoot area under the balls of the big and small toes. Ulcers with surrounding horn calluses are typical. The ulcers are painless and often even feel numb. Pain and calf cramps can occur at night. A doctor can also feel the foot pulses to rule out a circulatory disorder.

In the end stage of a neuropathic foot, the foot skeleton has completely collapsed, fractures in the forefoot and metatarsal area can occur and the foot is often grotesquely deformed (Charcot foot). Despite the deformity, the patients continue to put pressure on the foot as no pain is felt.


An ischemic gangrenous foot usually affects the toes and heel area. Sore ulcers can develop, and the skin is pale, dry, and parchment-like. The foot parts turn bluish and feel cold. As a rule, the foot pulses cannot be felt or are completely absent. In the advanced stages, the tissue in the affected area dies and turns black.