Diabetic neuropathy frequently causes foot problems, including tingling and numbness of the feet or toes and burning pain in one or both feet, says Harvard Health Publications. It sometimes also causes extreme sensitivity to touch or complete absence of any sensation in the feet or toes,
When sensation in the feet is reduced or lost due to diabetic neuropathy, the affected person may not feel pain when he injures his foot, explains Harvard Health Publications. For this reason, small blisters, cuts or other injuries often go unnoticed until an infection sets in. Because diabetes affects the nerves and blood vessels, these infections are difficult to treat and often lead to tissue death, gangrene and infections in the bones. When this occurs, the only effective treatment is sometimes surgical amputation of the affected limb. Lower-limb amputations due to diabetes are common, occurring at a rate of about 70,000 per year in the United States.
About 60 to 70 percent of people with diabetes have some form of neuropathy, says the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse. In addition to the feet, common sites include the lower legs, hands, sex organs, digestive tract and heart. The incidence of diabetic neuropathy is highest in people who have had the disease for 25 years or more and those who have trouble controlling their blood sugar. Other predisposing factors include smoking, abnormal fat levels in the blood, being overweight and having high blood pressure.