Some people with peripheral neuropathy discover that hard floors—especially tile—give them the screaming-meemies. Cool floors make their feet feel as though frostbite is imminent. How odd is that? You’d think burning feet would like cool floors. Others say they DO love naked feet on bare floors. It’s another instance of the individual nature of peripheral neuropathy symptoms.
Of course, if you have diabetes, walking around in bare feet is never, never a good idea. Diabetics have probably been told dozens of times to keep shoes on to prevent injuries. This is because, through lack of sensitivity, you could step on something nasty and not know it. In October of 2000, I attended a Diabetes Health Expo, representing our Neuropathy Self-Help Group, in the hope of getting new members. I brought a lovely crystal bowl from my home filled with samples of trail mix to lure people to our table and pick up flyers on peripheral neuropathy.
When I got home I accidentally dropped the bowl, which cracked into dozens of pieces, chunks, and slivers, all over the kitchen floor. I was barefoot. The next day, I looked at the sole of my foot, saw streaks of red, and realized I had an impressive problem. Glass was embedded in my big toe, and I hadn’t known it for 18 hours. It was Saturday, but luckily my podiatrist opened his office and yanked out the offending glass. Be wary of wearing bone naked feet. Get thee to a shoe store.
- They may not be the prettiest sight, but look at your feet every day, from the bottom up.
- If you redo your floors, whether bathroom, kitchen, or garage, think about slip-resistant flooring. Whether you’re barefoot or not, a slippery surface is something to avoid.
- When you drop something made of glass, sweep up the bigger pieces, then use a wet paper towel to pat gently on the floor to pick up any remaining slivers.
Don’t Turn Your Feet into Popsicles
Recently I got an e-mail from a Connecticut woman I’ll call Madeleine. She wrote, “In a pinch, when I have forgotten to take my meds, I use ice packs on my feet. Today I have been on my feet a lot and my feet are on fire.” I answered her quickly, “Do not put your feet in ice or use freezing water. You can cause a lot of damage to your nerve endings.”
Soldiers in during World War I did tremendous damage to their feet because they were forced to stand in freezing cold water.
You might think dunking your hot tootsies into a tub of freezing cold water would be a good idea. Wrong. Alan Berger, MD, Professor of Neurology, University of Florida (UF), College of Medicine-Jacksonville, and director of a Neuropathy Association-designated medical center at UF, told his support group to never put burning, roasting-hot feet in freezing water. It might seem as though you are doing your feet a favor, but you are not. Warm- or coolwater soaks are fine.
These Feet Aren’t Made for Shuffling
Gail G. told a recent support group that she’d been taking some bad falls. She couldn’t figure out why, then realized she simply needed to pick up her feet. Doing that will become a habit after a while, so start thinking about how you walk, with every step you take. Shuffling is only permitted if you’re walking in the dark to get to your bathroom and you have a puppy who might have left a trail of chewy bones or tennis balls that could cause you to trip.