Susan Lennon MSW, LCSW Content Strategist
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USA Weekend Magazine, September 9, 2007
by Susan T. Lennon

50% of diabetics have a serious disorder that can lead to amputation.

If you're diabetic and your feet or hands sting, tingle or lack sensation, the cause may be nerve damage, called peripheral sensory diabetic neuropathy.

About half of all diabetics have it, says the American Diabetes Association. The serious condition can lead to ulcers, infections and even amputations.

The good news: Research finds that two types of lipid-lowering drugs -- statins and fibrates, both used to prevent cardiovascular disease -- can reduce your risk of developing neuropathy. And if you already have nerve damage, these medicines may slow its progress, says lead researcher Timothy Davis, M.D., Ph.D., professor of medicine at the University of Western Australia.

Other diabetic tips from the researcher:

See your doctor. All diabetics should be checked at least annually for foot problems. If you have symptoms, let your doctor know right away. Early treatment can help avoid problems.

Check feet frequently, especially if you suspect problems or your circumstances change (i.e., new pair of shoes). Look for sores, cuts and skin breaks. Use a mirror if necessary.

Take care of your feet. Use lotion (but not between toes), wear well-fitting socks and shoes, wash with warm water, and dry off thoroughly. Get therapeutic shoes if needed. Medicare may cover them if you have foot problems.

Work out wisely. Some exercises strain the feet; stick with activities like cycling, swimming or rowing.

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