If you have diabetes, you may be prone to foot problems. Diabetic foot problems can lead to serious complications and are one the leading causes for diabetes-related hospitalizations. Taking care of your feet and visiting your podiatrist regularly can help to prevent many foot problems from developing or becoming serious.
Diabetes is a disease that causes elevated levels of glucose in your blood. This is caused by a problem with insulin production by the pancreas. Insulin moves glucose from the bloodstream into the cells of the body to give you energy, but if the body can’t make enough insulin or process it correctly, glucose doesn’t reach the cells and stays in the bloodstream.
Foot problems are a common complication of diabetes and are usually caused by nerve damage, infections, and poor blood circulation. This can result in foot ulcers or sores, deformities, and trauma to the feet. Two particular diabetic conditions affecting the feet are:
Peripheral Neuropathy – A condition that causes deterioration and damage to nerves and their function leading to a gradual loss of feeling and numbness in the legs, feet, hands, or arms. This can mean foot injuries and conditions take longer to heal or can go undetected because of a lack of sensation in the area.
Peripheral vascular disease – This is a circulation disorder where fatty deposits block blood vessels (usually ones to and from the limbs). This can result in reduced blood flow to the limbs. The restricted delivery of oxygen and nutrients leads to skin problems, infections, and pain. As a result, the risk of foot injuries, wounds, infections, and ulcers increases, and they may heal much more slowly.
There are guidelines you can follow to avoid and reduce the onset of diabetic foot conditions, including:
- Managing and monitoring your diabetes. Keep your blood sugar levels under control, eat a balanced diet, and exercise regularly. These things can help you prevent conditions from developing and help you keep on top of your diabetes.
- Inspecting your feet daily. Check for cuts, blisters, redness, inflammation, or nail problems. Contact your podiatrist as soon as possible if you notice anything unusual to prevent it from leading to more serious complications.
- Stopping smoking. Smoking can exacerbate foot and leg problems because it impairs blood circulation and restricts blood flow to the limbs.
- Moisturizing dry skin. Keep skin healthy and prevent cracking or itching by moisturizing daily. Avoid between the toes as moist skin can lead to fungal infections.
- Being careful when cutting nails. If you cut your toenails yourself, make sure you cut them straight across and don’t cut them too short as they can become ingrown and get infected.
- Thinking about your footwear. Ensure socks are clean and dry every time you wear them, and make sure to change them every day. Consider socks that have extra cushioning, are not too tight, and are made of breathable fibers (to reduce moisture around the feet). Wear shoes that are breathable, fit well, and aren’t too tight. Poor fitting shoes can cause blisters, corns, and toenail problems.
Routine Podiatrist Care
Good foot care includes regular visits to your podiatrist to prevent and stay on top of any foot problems that might develop. Each visit should include a thorough foot exam to identify any conditions that may require treatment and monitoring the degree of sensation in your feet.
If you have diabetes, a podiatrist is an important member of your care team. Minor skin problems on the feet can quickly accelerate into bigger problems. They can lead to hospitalization and even amputation of the foot or leg. It is very important to have routine visits with a podiatrist to prevent foot problems and serious complications.
Podiatry at Orthopaedic Associates of Central Maryland
At Orthopaedics Associates, our podiatrist, Dr. Marc Lipton, specializes in diabetic foot care, including wound care. He can review your diabetes management (blood glucose levels, diet, exercise), educate you on preventive foot care, and recommend appropriate footwear that provides structure and improves blood circulation to prevent future complications.
To schedule an appointment, call us today at (410) 644-1880 or toll-free at (855) 4MD-BONE. You can also request an appointment online. We look forward to serving you!