Whenever we talk about diabetes, the first thing that often comes to mind is “no more sugar.” And though that might be true, diabetes doesn’t just mean changing your diet. Diabetes affects your entire body, from your circulation system all the way down to your feet.
In fact, one of the most important aspects of diabetic care is paying close attention to those lower extremities of your body – doing so can make the difference between having healthy strides and needing amputation.
So, yes – since diabetes begins in the pancreas, it is not at all surprising that many of us are not aware of this vital part of diabetic care. But we are definitely glad you are reading our blog on this important topic. After all, here at Family Foot & Ankle Center, we’re happy to share some great information on this topic.
And now that you are reading this post, you will learn exactly how diabetes plays a role in the health and safety of your feet, and what you can do to prevent dangerous complications brought about by this condition.
Diabetes and Your Feet
Diabetes – and particularly its well-known symptom hyperglycemia – is a disease characterized by high blood glucose (sugar).
If you are diabetic and your blood sugar levels aren’t kept in check, your body may have trouble fending off infections due to decreased functioning of the immune system, and this can especially affect the feet when peripheral artery disease (lack of circulation) and peripheral neuropathy (loss of feeling) come into play.
All of this translates into significant danger to your feet – after all, if you can’t feel them, then how are you supposed to avoid things like blisters? And if your body can’t heal properly, then how are you supposed to get rid of those wounds you couldn’t even feel in the first place? And what about infection developing due this lack of awareness?
The truth is:
Once a problem starts, diabetes will take it and run with it.
Below are some of the most common conditions that can produce severe complications associated with diabetes:
- Ingrown toenails
- Corns and calluses
- Cracked and dry skin
- Fungal infections
In severe cases, these complications may even result in amputation!
Now, our intention here is not to scare you half-to-death, and we do have some good news to lighten up the mood a little bit:
There are definitely measures you can take to help prevent these problems from happening and/or worsening.
Some Diabetic Foot Care Tips
Caring for your feet can be fairly easy – in fact, the hardest part is actually adhering to a daily routine and making sure you follow instructions from start to finish every day.
But if you do stick to a comprehensive diabetic plan that includes foot care, then your chances of steering clear from problems will increase immensely.
Here are some good foot care suggestions you should follow:
- Exercise regularly to promote good circulation (although, you should avoid “high-impact” activities – so check with our office first!).
- Wash and dry your feet thoroughly every day.
- Alternate pairs of shoes to avoid pressure points.
- Wear clean, dry socks without tears or irritating seams.
- Wear properly-fitting shoes with ample room in the toes.
- Wear diabetic shoes or customized orthotics as prescribed.
- Wear shoes when indoors and outdoors to avoid injury.
- If you smoke, stop – cigarettes hinder peripheral circulation.
- Don’t sit with your legs crossed as this affects circulation.
- Control your blood sugars, cholesterol levels, and blood pressure.
- Use moisturizer to keep skin supple – but avoid those areas between the toes.
- Never self-treat calluses, cuts, corns, or blisters – come visit our office instead.
- Cut your toenails the right way – use clean tools and trim toenails straight across. (Even better, have our trained, experienced staff do this for you.)
- Inspect your feet daily, looking for pressure points, cuts, excessive dryness, and blisters.
- Call our office whenever you find any unusual signs – pain, redness, swelling, or blisters, cuts, and wounds that just don’t seem to be healing.
We know, it’s a lot. But paying the price for not keeping up with your foot care can mean losing a limb. You should always keep in mind that close podiatric care should accompany these daily preventative steps, and if you ever find or feel anything unusual in your feet, ankles, or lower legs, then you should come visit our Upland’s office immediately.
Let Us Help You!
When you come visit our team of experts, we will inspect your feet for any swelling, redness, sores, or lacerations, as well as any visible deformities like bunions or hammertoes. If necessary, we will order X-rays and/or blood work (especially if we suspect any type of infections). And based on what we find, we will then put together a customized care plan to address your unique situation.
But the bottom line is that when you have diabetes, even “normal” foot problems can become extremely dangerous and detrimental to your overall health. And we cannot express enough (although we have certainly tried) how important it is that you stay on top of caring for your feet and to come visit our Family Foot & Ankle Center whenever you notice anything wrong.
If you need more information on diabetic foot care or if you want to schedule an appointment with our team of experts, just give us a call at (909) 920-0884. You can also fill out our online contact form to have a member of our staff reach out to you.