Do you remember when you were first diagnosed with diabetes? For most of our patients, that was a scary moment. Initially, learning to manage your new diet and medication regimen seemed like a herculean task. Over time, however, you adapted to life with diabetes. You learned the do’s and don’ts. You probably also learned about the danger that diabetes presents to your feet. With your friend the podiatrist on your side, you can fight the foe of diabetic foot problems.
Diabetes Can Cause Serious Foot Problems
Two serious conditions may develop as a result of diabetes. These two main conditions can lead to many other related and risky foot problems.
- Diabetic Neuropathy: Nerve damage can occur if your diabetes is uncontrolled. When nerves are damaged in your feet and legs, you may experience a lack of feeling. Pain, heat and cold may all become difficult to sense. As a result, any cut can easily become infected.
- Peripheral Vascular Disease: Cuts and sores can also be affected by a slowed blood flow. Peripheral vascular disease occurs when the blood flow is constricted or slowed to the extremities—arms, hands, legs and feet.
Complications to Avoid
The most common diabetic foot problems are actually not any different from the foot problems that everyone else gets. Unfortunately, foot ailments that are relatively minor for a non-diabetic pose a serious health hazard for someone with diabetes. Here are some examples:
- Athlete’s foot is a condition caused by a fungus. Symptoms include itching, redness and cracking. While it can usually be treated with anti-fungal drugs, athlete’s foot allows germs to enter your skin and infections to develop. These infections can be dangerous to a diabetic. Fungal nail infections cause similar problems.
- Foot ulcers can be caused by cuts, scrapes and rubbing shoes. They are breaks in the skin that can allow infection to develop.
- Ingrown toenails cause problems for diabetics by increasing the chance of infection, even the loss of a toe, foot, or leg.
The real danger of these and many other conditions is the fact that they could cause infection. Left unchecked, infections might eventually lead to amputation. It is estimated that over 56,000 diabetes sufferers have amputations each year. Over half of these could be prevented by proper foot care.
So, Let’s Get Started Taking Care of Your Feet
What can you do to avoid the dangers of diabetes complications in your feet? Start this simple list today:
- Follow all your doctor’s advice for keeping your glucose under control. Keep strict control of your diet, exercise and medications.
- Give your feet daily care. Wash them in warm, soapy water and dry them completely. Inspect them for any calluses, blisters, sores or other possible sites for infection to develop. Use a moisturizer recommended by a podiatrist.
- Keep your toenails healthy. Trim them straight across to avoid ingrown toenails. Use an emery board to smooth them. Report any sign of a fungus.
- Wear the right shoes and socks. You should wear closed toe shoes to avoid injury. Your shoes should fit well and not cause any rubbing or damage. We also recommend always wearing socks or stockings and avoiding going barefoot, even around the house. We recommend socks without seams that are made from a cotton-acrylic blend.
- Keep your feet moving. You can greatly improve the blood flow to your feet by putting them up when you are sitting, wiggling your toes, rotating your ankles and avoiding crossing your legs.
- Stop smoking. Smoking reduces the blood flow in all parts of your body.
- Make regular appointments with a podiatrist. Even if you are not having any of the problems we have mentioned, a good foot doc can make sure you don’t get any. You should see your podiatrist every two to three months.
If you live in the tri-state Pennsylvania area, come see the caring team at Healthmark Foot and Ankle Associates. We can monitor your condition, keeping you safe from the many foot problems associated with diabetes. We have three exceptional board-certified podiatrists and two convenient locations. Call us today to protect your feet.
Healthmark Foot and Ankle Associates
Media Office: 610-565-3668
Exton Office: 610-269-4610
Phoenixville Office: 610-933-8644