People suffering from diabetic peripheral neuropathy, or nerve damage in the toes, feet, legs, hands and arms, deal with frustrating physical challenges. These complications include decreased sensation, desensitized reflexes, and loss of strength in the lower extremities, all leading to a loss of ability to balance.
Because of this loss of balance, those with diabetic neuropathy may be more likely to lose control and fall, especially while climbing or descending the stairs.
A study published in Diabetes Care found that people with diabetic neuropathy do experience impediments balancing.
In the study, gait analysis during level walking and stair negotiation was performed in 22 participants with diabetic peripheral neuropathy, 39 participants with diabetes without neuropathy, and 28 non-diabetic control subjects who were using a motion analysis system and embedded force plates in a staircase and level walkway.
The study showed marked impairments in dynamic sway during gait activities in those with diabetic peripheral neuropathy, which became more evident with increasing gait task complexity.
From this study, we can learn to be careful. If you have diabetic peripheral neuropathy, such as neuropathy in your feet, take care when going up and down the stairs in your home, at work, at the mall, at the parking garage, or any other place you might frequent with large staircases. If stairs are unavoidable, hold the railing on the staircase and don’t move too fast. You can also consult your doctor about other possible precautionary steps to help with your balance.