Diabetes may cause nerve damage, which impacts proper blood circulation to the legs and extremities, according to Everyday Health. Poor circulation often leads to other complications. In severe cases, the leg or toes require amputation.
Diabetic neuropathy, which is nerve damage caused by high blood glucose, often spreads to the extremities, including arms and legs, states Everyday Health. This condition, known as peripheral neuropathy, may cause symptoms of burning, tingling, sharp pains, cramps, and loss of coordination or balance. Many individuals experience no symptoms at all, while others may not notice signs of neuropathy due to a numb sensation. Untreated sores caused by neuropathy can lead to ulcers or infections that invade the bones.
Diabetics can take steps to prevent amputation in as many as half of all diabetes-related cases, according to Everyday Health. Diabetics should examine their feet daily for sores, wounds, changes in color or anything unusual as well as exercise proper foot hygiene, including washing in lukewarm water, using lotions on hard calluses, and using nonmedicated powders to control perspiration and prevent skin breakdown. They should never use alcohol, astringents, hydrogen peroxide or iodine on the feet. Additionally, diabetics should wear proper shoes and avoid anything that causes foot pain, irritation or discomfort.
If any signs of swelling, pain, redness, tingling or numbness occur, a patient should contact his doctor immediately, states Everyday Health. Additionally, it's imperative that a diabetic quits smoking, which decreases the blood flow in small blood vessels of the legs and feet.