Diabetes and Your Feet
Diabetes is a serious disease that can develop from lack of insulin production in the body or due to the inability of the body’s insulin to perform its normal everyday functions. Diabetes causes your blood sugar levels to be higher than normal. Over time, high blood sugar levels can damage the blood vessels and nerves in your body. Damage to your nerves means that you may have burning pain or lose feeling in a part of your body (this is called diabetic neuropathy). Damage to the blood vessels in your feet means that your feet may not be getting a good supply of blood. Of the sixteen million Americans with diabetes, 25% will develop foot problems related to the disease.
Diabetic foot conditions develop from a combination of causes including poor circulation and neuropathy. Diabetic Neuropathy can cause insensitivity or a loss of ability to feel pain, heat, and cold. Diabetics who suffer from neuropathy can develop minor cuts, scrapes, blisters, or pressure sores that they may not be aware of due to the insensitivity. If these minor injuries are left untreated, complications may result and lead to ulceration and possibly even amputation. Neuropathy can also cause deformities such as Bunions, Hammertoes, and Charcot feet.
Diabetes can be dangerous to your feet, even a small cut could have serious consequences. Diabetes may cause nerve damage that takes away the feeling in your feet. The loss of feeling in your feet makes it hard for you to tell if you have a blister or sore. Diabetes may also reduce blood flow to the feet, making it harder to heal an injury or resist infection. If little sores aren’t taken care of, they can get worse and turn into ulcers. If these ulcers become infected, you may have to go to the hospital or, in very serious cases, have a foot amputated.
Avoid problems with my feet
Inspect your feet daily
Check for cuts, blisters, redness, swelling, or nail problems. Use a magnifying hand mirror to look at the bottom of your feet. Call your doctor if you notice anything.
Moisturize your feet—but not between your toes
Use a moisturizer daily to keep dry skin from itching or cracking. But DON’T moisturize between the toes—this could encourage a fungal infection due to excessive moisture.
Cut nails carefully
Also, file the edges. Don’t cut them too short and bleed your toes. Never trim corns or calluses yourself. No “bathroom surgery”— let your doctor do the job.
Wear clean, dry socks
Change them daily. Don’t wear thick or bulky socks (they can fit poorly in shoes). NEVER use a heating pad or hot water bottle.
Shake out your shoes and inspect the inside before wearing
Remember, you may not feel a pebble—so always shake out your shoes before putting them on.
Keep your feet warm and dry
Don’t get your feet wet in snow or rain. Wear warm socks and shoes in winter. Never walk barefoot, not even at home! You could step on something and get a scratch or cut.
Take care of your diabetes
Keep your blood sugar levels under control.
Smoking restricts blood flow in your feet.
Get periodic foot exams
See your podiatric foot and ankle surgeon on a regular basis for an examination to help prevent the foot complications of diabetes.