Why foot care is so important with diabetes
If you’re living with diabetes, you may be wondering how a podiatrist can help you. The answer lies in understanding how diabetes can impact your feet. As part of your diabetes self-management, it’s important to take care of your feet. Your healthcare provider may remind you to check them daily because diabetes can cause nerve damage, circulation problems, and infections that can lead to serious foot issues. Even a small cut on your foot can lead to a foot ulcer, which can ultimately result in amputation. Shockingly, if you have diabetes, the lifetime risk for a foot ulcer is 25%, and anywhere between 9% to 25% of foot ulcers ultimately lead to amputation. However, there is good news: these problems can be prevented or delayed, but it requires you to take an active role. Regularly checking your feet can help you catch any issues early on and seek treatment as needed.
How to check your feet
To check your feet, first sit down and remove your shoes and socks. Then, examine the tops, bottoms, and sides of your feet, as well as between your toes. If you have trouble seeing or reaching your feet, use a mirror or ask someone else to help. Look for blisters, cuts, sores, dry or cracked skin, corns, calluses, rashes, or athlete’s foot. Also, feel your feet to check for temperature changes, discoloration, hair loss, pain, tingling, burning, or swelling. If you notice anything unusual, contact us immediately. Depending on the issue, they may refer you to a podiatrist for further diagnosis and treatment. Remember, taking care of your feet is an important part of managing diabetes.
How a podiatrist can help you
It’s important to take care of your feet when you have diabetes, and sometimes it’s a good idea to work with a podiatrist. Podiatrists are specially trained to treat problems of the feet and lower legs, and they can spot early signs of potential trouble and take steps to prevent them from worsening. If you have any issues with your feet, especially issues that could be related to diabetes, contact a podiatrist. They can assess for nerve damage, order imaging tests, treat foot injuries, cuts, sores and blisters, and provide education on caring for your feet. Your primary care provider can certainly help with these issues, as well, but a podiatrist may be able to offer more specialized care.
Diabetic foot care tips
Preventing foot problems is essential for people who have diabetes. Keeping feet healthy is critical, and a person should be vigilant about foot hygiene. An individual can take the following:
- Check the feet each day: Examine the feet daily or ask someone to check for any changes or injuries.
- Trim nails carefully: Trim toenails straight across and keep them short. Rounded nails can grow inward, leading to infection.
- Wash the feet daily: Keep the feet clean to prevent infections.
- Promote blood flow to the feet: Put the feet up when sitting, wiggle the toes periodically, and get enough exercise. These actions help promote healthy blood flow to the feet.
- Receive regular examinations on the feet: Regular examinations by a doctor are key to preventing infections, amputations, and severe deformities.
- Wear supportive shoes and socks: Protect the feet in socks and shoes at all times. A podiatrist may recommend special shoes to help prevent deformities. Do not apply socks so tightly that they restrict blood flow.
- Control blood sugar: Uncontrolled blood sugars increase the risk of podiatric complications from diabetes.
- Care for corns and bunions: Treat corns and bunions carefully. Never shave corns, as this increases the risk of infection.
- Protect feet from extreme temperatures: Exposure to extreme hot and cold can damage the feet of people with diabetes.
- Avoid smoking: Smoking adversely affects blood flow to the tissues, making foot problems worse in people with diabetes.
Diabetic foot problems can lead to various complications that can be dangerous if left untreated. A small cut or wound can result in skin and bone infections due to nerve and blood vessel damage. These infections are more likely to occur in wounds that have been previously treated with antibiotics. However, they can still be treated with antibiotics, although severe cases may require hospitalization. In addition, infections can create pockets of pus called abscesses that may require the removal of bone or tissue. Gangrene is another complication caused by diabetes that affects blood vessels in the fingers and toes, often leading to tissue death. Treatment for gangrene may include oxygen therapy or surgery to remove the affected area. Nerve damage can also result in deformities like hammertoes, claw feet, or a high arch that won’t flatten when weight is placed on it. Charcot foot is another complication of diabetes that weakens the bones in the foot, leading to fractures that can go unnoticed due to lessened sensation. If an infection can’t be healed, creates an abscess, or if low blood flow leads to gangrene, amputation may be necessary.
Therefore, it’s important to take good care of your feet if you have diabetes and seek medical attention if any complications arise. Schedule an appointment at Renaissance Foot & Ankle Center over the phone or request online https://renaissancefac.com/appointments/