It can be stressful coping with diabetes on a daily basis. People with this disease are encouraged to carefully monitor their sugar levels every few hours, make sure they eat a healthy diet, and make regular doctor’s appointments to keep their health on track. Even with all of these precautions, however, they still have more health risks to worry about—including what could happen if they experience even a relatively minor foot injury.
There are a number of ways in which diabetes can cause foot problems. High blood glucose levels can lead to foot and ankle conditions that can escalate into serious—and in some cases life-threatening—complications, such as:
- Nerve damage. Increased blood sugar levels can cause diabetic neuropathy, or nerve damage, which can result in a lack of feeling in the legs and feet. This lack of sensation is dangerous, as people with diabetic neuropathy can have cuts or sores on their feet but not feel any pain. These patients are at greater risk for infection.
- Circulation problems. People with diabetes who have poor blood flow to the arms and legs have a greater chance of developing a serious infection if they are injured, and improper blood flow to the feet can prevent an open sore from healing as it should. Smoking increases problems with blood flow.
- Infection. An infection can be fatal for anyone, but it’s even more likely for a person with diabetes, as increased blood sugar encourages the spread of bacteria. In people with diabetes, even a blister can rapidly become infected if the person is unaware of the blister and doesn’t seek prompt treatment.
- Gangrene. If an infection is allowed to spread, gangrene can develop. With gangrene, skin cells and other tissue around the sore die, causing the area to turn black and begin to smell. If the infection progresses to this point, amputation of the toe, the foot, or a portion of the leg might be necessary to keep the gangrene from spreading any farther.
Prevention is the best approach to these conditions. At Healthmark Foot & Ankle Associates, our Philadelphia area foot care specialists teach patients with diabetes how to take daily care of their feet to prevent sores and blisters, and take immediate action to treat these problems when they occur.
Find out how good it feels to have one of our trusted Philadelphia foot doctors taking care of your feet. Call us today for a consultation in Media at 610-565-3668 or in Phoenixville at 610-933-8644 and start a full-body approach to caring for your health.
Don’t stop now—better health is just a click away! Click the link on this page, and we’ll send you a FREE copy of our informational guide The Foot Is Not an Island: Recognizing Vitamin D Deficiency & How to Correct It.