Diabetes is a disease of insulin control that affects every aspect of your health, including the health of your feet. Spikes in your blood sugar can damage your blood vessels and nerves, leading to complications such as peripheral artery disease (PAD).
Because of PAD and other forms of nerve and blood vessel damage, your feet are especially vulnerable if you have diabetes. You and your podiatrist must be alert to any changes in your feet, which includes physical changes to the skin as well as symptoms that affect sensation.
David J. Kaplan, DPM, is an expert at diagnosing and treating the diabetic foot, including ulcerations and other wounds. At FootCare Specialists, Inc. in San Mateo and Half Moon Bay, California, he and our team help you preserve the health and function of your feet. Here’s why you need to pay special attention to your feet if you have diabetes.
The number one reason to care for your feet if you have diabetes is that 85% of non-trauma-related foot amputations around the world are the result of complications from diabetes. Amputation rates of feet and legs have recently risen in the United States, especially among young adults (ages 18-44) and middle aged adults (45-64) with diabetes.
Although you may only think about your diabetes in terms of how it affects your blood sugar, spikes in your blood sugar damage the lining of your blood vessels. Damaged vessels make it harder for your blood to circulate throughout your body, particularly to your feet, which are located farther from your heart than any other body part.
Blood sugar spikes and inflammation also destroy or damage nerves. If you have diabetes, stay alert to symptoms in your feet and legs that could indicate damage, including:
Even though it may be cumbersome to examine your own feet, do so daily so that you notice changes that could require medical attention. Also be sure to get an annual diabetic foot care examination. If you have any foot changes, you may need to see us more than once a year.
You may be tempted to dismiss any lesions or ulcers on your feet if they aren’t painful. However, the lack of pain doesn’t indicate a lack of seriousness. In fact, if you see lesions and don’t feel pain, that could actually be a sign that your nerves and blood vessels are already damaged.
Diabetic feet can grow so numb that you don’t even feel a thumbtack, piece of glass, or stone that’s lodged in your foot. Contact us right away if you suspect you have a foreign object in your foot or if you notice swelling, redness, or an open wound.
Don’t hesitate to contact us if you notice an open wound, cut, or ulcer on your foot that’s oozing blood or pus. Even wounds that aren’t oozing could easily become infected and ultimately lead to serious complications if they don’t start to heal within a day or two.
We clean any wounds or ulcers on your feet. We also give you wound care instructions so that your feet can heal. In addition, we treat more mundane problems, such as ingrown toenails, which could otherwise lead to serious complications in someone who has diabetes.
Just as you brush your teeth twice a day to avoid cavities, gum infection, and tooth loss, you should examine your feet daily to preserve their health. If it’s difficult for you to see the soles of your feet, use a mirror to help you visualize any changes. Take these steps to keep your feet healthy:
Over-the-counter corn and callus removers contain ingredients that can damage the skin on your feet. If you notice any type of lesions on your feet or toes, see your podiatrist for safe evaluation, treatment, and removal.
To be sure your diabetic feet get the care and healing they need, contact our team today. Call us at the office nearest you, or use our convenient online form.