For anyone with diabetes, foot care is absolutely essential. Without proper foot care, a person with diabetes can face a number of very serious complications such as neuropathy, ulcers and possible amputations. Dr. Danciger is extremely dedicated to helping his patients with diabetes and has years of experience dealing with diabetic foot and ankle problems.
How Does Diabetes Affect Feet?
There are many foot problems that can develop when you have diabetes. It is primarily the circulatory system that is affected which results in foot complications. The higher blood glucose level can cause a buildup in the walls of the small blood vessels. This results in a narrowing and hardening of the blood vessels leading to a decreased blood flow.
A reduced blood flow to your feet makes it harder to resist infection or heal an injury.
High blood sugar can also cause damage to nerves throughout your legs and feet. Called peripheral neuropathy, this symptom results in a reduced ability to feel pain and hot or cold. With a lack of feeling, a small pebble in your shoe could go unnoticed and cause a small sore or blister over the course of the day. Poor circulation can then cause this small injury to become infected or turn into a non-healing wound. Without proper attention, this could lead to eventual amputation.
If I Have Diabetes, How can I Avoid Serious Problems?
There are many things that you can do to prevent complications in your feet from diabetes. The most important priority is having regularly scheduled appointments with Dr. Danciger to monitor your foot health. Small problems caught and treated early will prevent serious complications. Other important guidelines include:
- Inspect your feet daily for any injuries or unusual symptoms.
- Never treat corns, calluses or ingrown toenails by yourself.
- Trim toenails carefully and be sure to cut straight across to avoid ingrown toenails.
- Wash feet in lukewarm water and moisturize feet while avoiding between the toes.
- Shake out your shoes before wearing for any foreign objects.
- Never walk barefoot, not even at home.
- Avoid wearing shoes that are too tight and choose shoes with a wide toe box.
- Avoid smoking as it restricts blood flow in your feet.
Unfortunately, diabetic neuropathy can cause some serious complications. Foot ulcers are one problem that many people with diabetes face. An ulcer is an open wound on the foot and they often develop under the big toe or on the ball of the foot. If your foot repeatedly rubs against a shoe that does not fit right, an ulcer can develop. It is very important to take action immediately after an ulcer is noticed. Walking on one will only cause it to become larger and the infection to worsen. Maintain appropriate blood sugar levels will be crucial as high glucose levels hinder your ability to fight off infection. Left untreated, an ulcer can become infected and result in amputation.
Unfortunately, people with diabetes are at a high risk for amputation. Approximately 80% of the non-traumatic amputations that are performed yearly in the U.S. are diabetes-related. Poor circulation and neuropathy make it easy for a person with diabetes to get injuries, infections and ulcers that can lead to this result. The good news is that most amputations are preventable with proper footwear and regular foot care.
If you have any questions about diabetic foot care or are in need of treatment, please don’t hesitate to contact Dr. Danciger. Call our podiatric office in Palm Desert, CA at (760) 568-0108 or request an appointment online.
If you have diabetes or know someone with the disease, we would love to send you a free copy of Dr. Danciger’s book, Understanding Your Diabetic Feet. Simply click here to order yours today.