Vulnerability to foot pain and injury is one of the many common consequences of a diabetes diagnosis. Those living with this condition often require a little extra preventative care and attention in order to retain a healthy, active, and mobile quality of life.
If you have diabetes, there is no such thing as a "minor" injury—even small infections can grow into something that threatens a limb or even your life. If you experience any foot problems, please call us right away.
Diabetic Foot Complications
Uncontrolled blood sugar is linked to two major foot conditions that, together, can be very dangerous for your long-term health:
- Peripheral neuropathy. Diabetes can cause the nerves in your feet to sustain damage that builds over time and stops them from working properly, causing pain and ultimately numbness. This can prevent you from even noticing an injury until many hours later.
- Peripheral artery disease. Blood vessels in the lower limbs become constricted or blocked in people with diabetes, reducing blood flow and the delivery of oxygen, nutrients, and other essentials. This can prevent your body from healing wounds in a timely manner or fighting off infections.
The consequences of these two major underlying issues can be devastating. Lack of awareness about injury, combined with slow healing, can lead to life-altering problems like infected ulcers or Charcot's foot. Often, amputation is the only resort when these conditions progress too far.
And with diabetes, even problems that might be mere annoyances in other individuals, such as athlete's foot, blisters, corns and calluses, and dry skin, have the potential to become much more destructive.
Diabetic Foot Care
Caring for Feet at Home
The most important component of diabetic foot care is how you protect and care for your feet at home. Establishing good habits such as the following is critical for long-term health:
- Fully examine your feet every day for signs of injury, damage, swelling, discoloration, temperature variation, or other unusual variations. Make an appointment with us if you observe any serious problems or issues that aren't improving with time.
- Wash and dry your feet thoroughly every day. Keep the skin soft and smooth.
- Keep your toenails neatly trimmed.
- Always wear socks and protective shoes, including indoors.
- Exercise regularly and maintain a healthy diet.
- Carefully measure and regulate underlying problems such as blood glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol with medication when necessary
Preventative Care From a Physician
It is always preferable to prevent major problems before they occur, rather than treating or managing them after the fact. We urge all patients with diabetes to check in with us at least once a year for a diabetic foot checkup. Those with a history of foot problems should visit more regularly, according to a schedule set by your physician. These checkups not only allow us to provide maintenance care for corns and calluses, dry skin, nails, etc. but also to screen for the early warning signs of peripheral neuropathy and low circulation. Patients with a high risk of ulceration or other complications often benefit from custom orthotics and/or diabetic shoes and socks. These tools ensure that your feet have enough wiggle room and are protected from snags, seams, impacts, shear forces, and other external pressures that can cause problems.
If you have an injury or ulcer, immediate treatment is required. Quick intervention can help prevent infection and reduce the risk that an ulcer will progress into a problem that must be corrected surgically or via amputation. Dr. Dailey can intervene to provide temporary relief, at which point we will offer you a referral to a trusted wound treatment facility.
The Professional Foot Care You Need
The best way to know that you are getting the care you need to prevent serious diabetic foot complications is to schedule an appointment in our office. When you have diabetes, foot care is something that should not be ignored. Contact Freeland Foot & Ankle Clinic for the expert care and treatment you need. Give us a call at (989) 695-6788 or contact us online to schedule your appointment today.