Once more, with feeling
A monofilament, which looks somewhat like a fishing line, can help a doctor determine if a patient has suffered nerve degeneration in the feet, which commonly affects diabetics. The device could help identify people with nerve damage that needs close medical monitoring.
Next time you get your finger pricked for a blood-sugar check, don’t be surprised if your doctors starts poking around on your toes, too.
Touching the toes and the rest of the foot with what looks like a bit of stiff fishing line may help people with diabetes keep their feet forever. If it feels like your doctor is putting a toothpick up against your feet, you’re fine. If you don’t feel a thing, you need to start paying rigorous daily attention to your tootsies.
This new but simple device is called a monofilament, and it helps a doctor determine whether you have any of the nerve degeneration that tags along with diabetes. This fishing-line-type filament with a handle helps the doctor measure the pressure sensation on each part of the foot. If used regularly by doctors (annually for each patient), monofilament testing along with some TLC for your feet is believed to be able to prevent as many as 40 percent of the more than 54,000 diabetic foot amputations that happen each year.
“Blanket recommendations to check the feet for changes daily are made for all people with diabetes,” says Jennifer Mayfield, M.D., chair of the American Diabetes Association’s Foot Care Council. But most people don’t check daily until they’re in peril. This testing helps identify who really needs to put foot-checking into action, as well as protect the foot with the right shoe and see a foot-care specialist regularly.
Loss of sensation might sound like heaven if your feet are perpetually killing you. But it’s incredibly dangerous since it means you could walk around all day on the jack that your grandchildren put in your shoe. Also, “people without this sense literally wear holes through the bottoms of their feet in the same way that kids will wear holes in their socks,” says Dr. Mayfield. And they constantly crunch their feet inside ever-shrinking shoes. “They’re used to certain pressure on their feet and they tend to buy smaller and smaller shoes to get that same sensation,” she says.
Increase protection with footwear that has thick cushioning on the inside. But don’t add padding to shoes you already have–that could put the squeeze on your feet even more.