An incredible X-ray shows a sewing needle stuck in the food of a grandmother who had no idea it was there.
The remarkable image was shared on Reddit, with a note revealing the unnamed woman had lost sensation in her feet because of her diabetes.
Doctors only discovered the needle when the woman, whose age is also unknown, sought help for an infection around her toes.
Reddit users described the story, which serves as a reminder about the dangers of having diabetes, as ‘awesome’.
An X-ray shows a sewing needle stuck in the food of a grandmother who had no idea it was there – or how long it had been there. The woman, of Georgia, US, had lost sensation in her feet due to diabetes – a condition called diabetic peripheral neuropathy
The woman’s granddaughter, of California, whose name and age is also unknown, told the story going only by her screen name of ‘kaylalorene’.
In the thread, which has received 37,000 ‘up-votes’, she wrote: ‘My grandma had no idea she had a sewing needle in her foot.
‘No telling how long it’s been in there. Skin was healed. It finally started rejecting yesterday and she had emergency surgery.’
When curious Reddit users queried how the grandmother could possibly have trod on a sewing needle and not realised, kaylalorene confirmed she had diabetes.
The needle was safely removed with emergency surgery, and while the grandmother is recovering, the family are planning to frame the X-ray as a joke present.
HOW CAN DIABETES LEAD TO FOOT AMPUTATIONS?
People with diabetes are far more likely to need their toes or feet amputated because their injuries do not heal normally.
High blood sugar can cause nerve damage which means patients cannot feel their skin as well and may not know when they have a wound, or feel how serious it is.
And diabetes restricts circulation in the legs, which slows down healing because oxygen and nutrients are in short supply.
The combination of these two factors means it can take longer for people to get over injuries and the healing time means there is more opportunity for it to become infected or for flesh to die because of gangrene.
If an injury becomes too infected or untreatable the affected part of the body may have to be cut off.
Source: American Podiatric Medicine Association
Kaylalorene, who revealed her grandmother lives in Georgia, said: ‘She has staph [an infection] and [is] still in the hospital. Lots of antibiotics.’
A user, named MommaChickens, wrote: ‘This is an awesome X-ray for teaching the effects of diabetes.
‘I hope your grandma recovers without a hitch: Just remember, the same condition that protected her from the pain will make it difficult to heal from the surgery.’
The image and accompanying story was told on a channel called r/WTF, which has 5.4million subscribers.
Diabetic neuropathy, or nerve damage, is a common complication of uncontrolled diabetes.
Typically, it affects the extremities – when it is known as peripheral diabetic neuropathy – and is estimated to affect up to 50 per cent of all patients with diabetes.
The exact cause is unknown, but it’s been hypothesized that it occurs when high blood sugar levels damage nerve fibres and blood vessels that supply oxygen and nutrients.
Symptoms can include pain and numbness, but the main danger is patients may not feel minor injuries, which can become infected or ulcerated.
These wounds can be difficult to heal because diabetes also reduces blood flow, and therefore repairing cells, to the feet.
Infections can spread and cause tissue death or gangrene. It is estimated that every week, 100 people lose a foot or limb through diabetes.
Diabetes is the country’s fastest growing health crisis, with the number of people suffering from the disease doubling over 20 years from 1.9million to 3.7million.
In the US, 30.3 million Americans, or 9.4 per cent of the population, had diabetes in the year 2015.
The problem is largely being driven by obesity, with 90 per cent of patients suffering from the type 2 form which is linked to lifestyle and diet.