If you suffer from diabetes, even minor foot problems can lead to significant health threats. Corns, calluses, blisters, ingrown toenails, or even dry and cracked skin can be the beginning of an infection.
Why is this the case? An unfortunate combination of factors:
- Poor circulation. Elevated levels of glucose in the blood causes blood to travel slower. This impairs the function of the immune system. It also inhibits flow of blood to the smallest blood vessels, which disproportionately affects the lower extremities and the eyes.
- Loss of sensation. The lack of proper blood supply to the nerves can cause you to lose feeling in your feet. That makes you less sensitive to pain, and less likely to discover a cut or injury until hours (or days) after it occurs.
Because of these and other factors, diabetics often develop holes or ulcers on their feet from areas that rub on their skin. Bacterial and fungal infections are more prone to take hold, and the texture of the skin can change and become cracked.
For those without diabetes, infections can usually be contained. But for those with diabetes, infections are more difficult to control and frequently require IV antibiotics. When infections become severe, or if blood flow continues to be inadequate tissues die and gangrene is the result. When the situation reaches this stage, debridement or amputation can become the only option.
How to Avoid Foot Problems That May Threaten Your Limbs
Serious diabetic complications can be prevented by meticulous foot care. If you are a diabetic, you should see Dr. Tepper at least every 2 to 3 months for a routine check-up. Some diabetics should be seen as often as every 2 weeks.
If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, you need to see Dr. Tepper as soon as possible:
- Corns or Calluses
- Ingrown Toenails
- Red or Irritated Spots
- Dry or Cracked Skin
- Athletes Foot
- A Sore That Won’t Heal
- Ulcers, Blisters, or Infection
- Pain in The Feet or Calves
Conservative Treatment is Available to Patients Who Seek Prompt Intervention
If you have diabetes, you should never “wait and see” if a problem gets worse before getting help. It only increases the risk that you’ll develop a critical infection. We can help with both treatment and prevention.
Prescription footwear can significantly reduce the risk of lower extremity ulceration, especially for those with a history of diabetic foot problems. Diabetic shoes offer additional depth to house orthotic devices. They are built to provide extra shock absorption and stability for the foot, and can be customized to accommodate specific needs.
Essential features include:
- Pressure relief. Diabetic shoes offload areas of the foot subject to excessive pressure.
- Reduced shear and shock. Diabetic shoes minimize both impact forces (shock) and horizontal forces from the foot sliding around in the shoe (shear).
- Deformity accommodation. Diabetic shoes are designed to accommodate deformities like bunions, hammertoes, and Charcot foot and reduce the risk of further damage or pain.
- Joint motion restriction. Diabetic shoes keep at-risk joints from unsafe motion, which helps stabilize the foot and reduce or prevent pain, inflammation, and injury.
Our office is happy to prescribe and fit you with an effective and fashionable pair of stock or customized diabetic shoes, as well as a companion pair of custom accommodative or functional orthotics.
If you have diabetes, you should be checking your feet at least once per day at home. Come and see us as soon as you notice any changes from your normal foot appearance, so we can treat any ulcers or wounds before they become serious.
We take care of wounds by:
- Cleaning the wound of dead skin, foreign particles, etc. (debridement)
- Healing and closing the wound using advanced skin grafts, ultrasound, and other technology
- Providing a total contact cast to offload the foot
- Performing a circulation study test
- Prescribing you a diabetic shoe, if you do not already have one
The primary steps we take in controlling wounds as a successful part of our wound care program:
- Blood sugar control
- Circulation (part of our circulation study test)
- Control the infection, if there is one
- Decrease pressure on the wound
- Discuss proper Nutrition and diet
The best way to prevent diabetic wounds is to have a carefully prepared diabetic foot care plan. If you don’t already have one, give us a call so we can help you change that!
Other Conservative Treatments
The following interventions may also be incorporated into a care plan for a diabetic foot concerns:
- In-office laser surgery to treat warts, and fungal nails
- Medications to treat and manage peripheral neuropathy, nail fungus, calluses, cramps, and dry skin
- Orthotics (with or without diabetic shoes) to correct muscle imbalances, absorb shock, and promote a healthy and efficient foot function
- High voltage electrical stimulation, which can have a positive effect on infection and pain and promotes healthy nerve activity
- Whirlpool treatments to soften skin and nails, treat wounds, and cleanse deep pockets of infection.
Medicare Pays for Podiatric Care
Medicare pays for emergency as well as routine care. Diabetic patients can visit Dr. Tepper as often as necessary for routine nail and foot care.
When You Need Dr. Tepper’s Help
Dr. Jan David Tepper is well-known among area physicians for his prompt, effective care of diabetic patients. As a podiatric physician, he is trained as a specialist to medically and surgically treat all diabetic foot complications. His office contains diagnostic and physical therapy equipment designed specifically for foot care and is not available in most medical offices. This equipment is especially helpful in the treatment of diabetic foot problems, which often need non-surgical methods.
To schedule an appointment with Dr. Tepper and his team today, please call (909) 920-0884.