A warning for diabetics who are putting off a trip to the podiatrist: studies from the American Podiatric Medical Association has revealed that 25 percent of 600 people that suffered an amputation from diabetes said they should have seen a specialist sooner.
In addition, thirty percent of amputees who suffered from diabetic foot disease said that if they had paid more attention to the warning signs, they would definitely have called their doctor earlier. Diabetic foot disease occurs when a patient’s feet are affected by fluctuating blood sugar changes, causing infection and circulation problems that may ultimately require removal of the foot.
Your feet should be checked regularly for the following three conditions in order to prevent diabetic foot disease:
- Neuropathy. If the sensation in your feet has been affected, you may not realize that your feet are cracked, infected or injured. Your podiatrist should be examined for signs of neuropathy at least once a year.
- Vascular disease. Patients with diabetes are more likely to develop narrowed blood vessels, and the risk is even higher for those who are smokers, have high blood pressure, or have abnormalities in their cholesterol levels.
- Foot deformity. Any abnormality in the shape of the foot can affect weight distribution, making it more likely that the patient will suffer foot ulcers, calluses, or corns. These conditions must be evaluated and treated by a podiatrist before they become sores to reduce the chance of infection.
While it is still not possible to prevent all diabetic foot complications, podiatrists can greatly reduce the number of amputations and early death among patients through early detection. By educating patients, their family members, and their caregivers about the warning signs of diabetic foot disease and stressing the importance of proper foot care, doctors can help patients avoid surgical treatment for foot complications.