There is a startling research statistic showing that every 30 seconds, someone around the world is losing a part of their foot due to diabetes. Possibly just as startling is how this can often be easily avoided with preventive checks and comprehensive treatment.
According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are 30.3 million people living with diabetes in the United States. Diabetes comes with many serious complications, including chronic wounds, nerve damage, and foot ulcers. Further, diabetes is the leading cause of non-traumatic, lower-extremity amputations in the United States.
People living with diabetes need to examine their feet regularly in order to prevent infections which may lead to amputation. Getting frequent physical examinations of the feet will reduce this menacing outcome, and diabetics should promptly report any noticeable changes on their feet to their physician, to decide the best possible treatment.
Diabetic patients are recommended to see a podiatrist once a year for a diabetic foot check, whether they are having a problem or not. When someone has diabetes, increased blood sugar can damage arteries and nerves in the eyes, heart, and slow down digestion. Decreased circulation can radiate down into the legs and the feet. Blood circulation issues also can increase the risk for developing chronic wounds, as well as making the wounds more prone to infection.
This shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise, as diabetic patients are more prone to developing chronic wounds for a few reasons. Two of the most influencing factors are nerve damage and blood circulation issues that are common with diabetes. Nerve damage tends occurs in patients who have a history of diabetes because elevated blood glucose levels damage nerves over time. Neuropathy causes patients to experience reduced, or lack of, sensation in the areas affected.
Many patients can get an infection without realizing it because they’re unable to feel pain in the area. Further, neuropathy commonly affects the feet, so a wound on the bottom of the foot can escalate quickly because the patient cannot feel or see the wound easily.
A lot of people who do come to see a podiatrist have had a family member that has lost their leg, or maybe lost a toe, due to diabetes. Since diabetes is hereditary, it is important to request an appointment with your podiatrist for a thorough examination. Your feet are a big indicator of diabetes, and detecting if you have any other health problems that could be detrimental if left untreated.
Controlling risk factors and monitoring the skin daily is key to minimizing the negative effects of diabetes. For anyone with diabetes, taking care of your feet and understanding how to properly address foot problems is integral to living a healthy life.
If you have diabetes or think you may, be sure to get checked out immediately by a board-certified podiatrist. Call Orthopaedic Associates of Central Maryland at (410) 644-1880 to request an appointment.