Over 30 million people in the United States have diabetes. If not managed well, this chronic condition can lead to a variety of health complications. One of those health complications is foot infections and lower extremity amputations. In fact, diabetic-related foot complications account for more than half of the foot amputations in the United States.
While that statistic can be scary for those with diabetes or prediabetes, the good news is that you can beat the odds. With proper foot maintenance, keeping your blood sugar levels under control, and the dedicated care of a board-certified podiatrist, you can keep your feet healthy and avoid complications.
High blood sugar levels, a symptom of diabetes, can damage nerves, tissues, and vital organs if not managed well. This damage can lead to two significant problems for your legs and feet: nerve damage and poor circulation.
Both nerve damage and poor circulation to your lower extremities can result in a variety of foot issues. Some of these issues include:
Diabetes-related nerve damage is called neuropathy. It can cause pain, weakness, and tingling, but it also reduces the feeling in your feet. Because of this reduction in sensation, you may not be aware of a cut or other injury, which can eventually get infected. Half of all people with diabetes experience some degree of nerve damage.
High glucose levels can also affect your blood flow. Peripheral vascular disease occurs when there is reduced blood flow in your arms and legs. Without proper blood flow, wounds take longer to heal. Unhealed wounds can lead to infection and gangrene, which is when your tissue dies because of a lack of blood flow.
About 10% of people with diabetes develop a foot ulcer. A foot ulcer is a sore, usually on the ball of your foot or bottom of your big toe, caused by your feet rubbing up against your shoes. If not treated promptly, an ulcer can turn into an infection, which can lead to further foot complications.
A buildup of skin causes calluses and corns. These foot issues are usually caused by ill-fitting shoes or friction from your feet or toes rubbing against your shoe. These are common foot problems for those with or without diabetes, but for those with diabetes, calluses and corns can turn into something more serious if not cared for properly.
Check your feet every night for any cuts, wounds, or sores. It’s also essential to wash them with a gentle cleanser and to moisturize them. At FootCare Specialists, we can recommend the best and safest products to use.
In addition to a regular home care routine, it’s vital to your foot health to see a podiatrist who’s experienced in diabetic foot care such as David J. Kaplan, DPM, at least once a year. If you have foot complications, Dr. Kaplan may recommend more frequent visits. If you notice a sore, cut, or infection, schedule an appointment.
At your diabetic foot care visit, Dr. Kaplan tests your nerve function and checks for signs of wounds, sores, or infections. If he finds any problems, he can begin treatment during your visit and send you home with the proper antibiotics or other medication and care instructions. With regular podiatrist visits, you can keep your feet healthy and prevent foot complications such as infections and amputation.
With November being Diabetes Awareness Month, now’s the time to give us a call for more information on diabetic foot care or an appointment with Dr. David J. Kaplan at FootCare Specialists, Inc. You can also request an appointment using our online system.