Diabetic Foot Care

A person with diabetes has elevated blood sugar levels.  With a higher sugar level, small issues can quickly become complex.  Diabetes affects people of all ages. Some people do not even realize they have diabetes until they see some of the symptoms.

How Diabetes Affects Your Feet

Unfortunately, people with diabetes can develop complications with their feet.  It happens because of the high sugar levels in the blood, which make a person with diabetes more prone to infections.  It also makes situations and conditions more complicated and in some cases can magnify the conditions.  A foot condition can go from good to bad within 24 hours because you have fungus and bacteria in the feet naturally.  So if you have an open area then you can get a severe infection very quickly.  If you have calluses, they can break the skin down and create open areas.

Foot problems in people with diabetes are caused by pressure, such as wearing inappropriate footwear, excessive moisture, trauma and uncontrolled sugar.  If you have diabetes and do not take care of your feet, you can encounter one of the many complications associated with the disease.  Your feet could get an infection and the infection can get to the tissue, which can create open areas and get to the bone.  Our job as podiatrists is to save your feet from amputation, and help keep your feet healthy while living with diabetes.

Common issues people with diabetes may encounter:

Neuropathy

Neuropathy is numbness of the foot, or in some cases, excessive pain in the foot. Sometimes it is one extreme or the other, such as you cannot feel anything, like touching of the toes, or a simple touching of the foot creates an extreme pain.  Neuropathy is caused by high blood sugar levels that are not controlled.  Other causes can include poor circulation, alcoholism, side effects to medications, or traumas.  In order to diagnose neuropathy, we can test with certain instruments to see if a person can feel sensations in their feet.  Treatment options may include sugar control, shoe inserts, physical therapy, or laser treatment.

Calluses

Calluses are hard areas of skin on the bottom of the foot.  Some time in a callus you will see dark areas within the callus, which is where the callus is starting to break the skin down deep inside the tissue. Calluses can cause pain and discomfort.  They develop because the skin has a tendency to dry. The capillaries tend to absorb or disappear once they reach the foot, and the foot dries out and cracks.  Of there are open areas, and with the dryness and the pressure, that is the perfect recipe for a callus to form.  Treatment includes debriding the callus to keep from coming back.  If you use a pumice stone or emery board yourself to get rid of calluses, this will only slow down the process of them coming back.  However, you should moisturize your feet daily and see a podiatrist to take care of your calluses.

Foot Ulcers

Foot ulcers are open areas in the foot, which allow the tissue or bleeding to be seen.  Pain is a common symptom of a person who has foot ulcers, as well as bloody socks or shoes.  It is important to get any open wounds on your foot looked at right away; as you do not want further complications do develop.  Treatment includes debridement, which will help get rid of the dead or infected tissue.

Poor Circulation

Poor circulation happens when there is a lack of blood flow to the feet, and inability of blood to get back up from the feet to the heart. Classic signs are swelling or inflammation of the ankle joint.  You may also experience dry feet, loss of hair, no pulse is palpable, redness and cracking of the skin.    Treatment includes keeping blood pressure and cholesterol under control.  Other treatments include wearing compressive stockings, elevating your feet, and taking blood thinners.

Footwear and Diabetes

If you have diabetes, it’s important to wear the proper footwear.  You want to make sure of the following when purchasing shoes:

  • Get shoes with thick rubber soles shoes and arch support.
  • You need plenty of room in the toe box.
  • Wear socks as they are an important barrier that protects the foot. Cotton socks allow the foot to breathe.

How to Avoid Amputation

People with diabetes should receive regular checkups, wear proper shoes, and if there is an issue with your feet you contact your podiatric physician immediately.  Also, monitoring your sugars by making sure your sugar does not become elevated.  However, if you already had an amputation it is still important to look after the incision site.  You should moisturize the incision site, and if there’s any open area or redness, contact our office immediately.

Call Our Office

If you are a person with diabetes, you should see a podiatrist regularly.  A podiatrist can help educate you on proper shoe gear and provide appropriate treatment options.  It is always important to keep a close eye on your feet and check them daily for open wounds or sores.  Call our office today to schedule an appointment.