Diabetic Foot Problems
All forms of diabetes may lead to damage to the circulation and to the nerves. This is particularly common in the extremities of the body, especially the foot because it is in a shoe most of the time and it can be difficult to see and check regularly. Having diabetes increases the risk of developing a wide range of foot problems. Furthermore, with diabetes, small foot problems can turn into serious complications; even a small cut can produce serious consequences.
People with diabetes are prone to having foot problems, often because of two complications of diabetes: nerve damage (neuropathy) and poor circulation. Neuropathy causes loss of feeling in your feet, taking away your ability to feel pain and discomfort. Poor circulation in your feet reduces your ability to heal, making it hard for even a tiny cut to resist infection.
Nerve damage takes away the feeling in your feet. If some sensation is lost in the foot because of nerve damage, pain may not alert you to that damage has occurred. Problems such as broken areas of skin around the foot can easily arise, but these can be difficult to heal. Diabetes may also reduce blood flow to the feet, making it harder to heal an injury or resist infection.
Because of these problems, you may not notice a foreign object in your shoe. As a result you could develop a blister or a sore. This could lead to an infection or a non-healing wound that could put you at risk for an amputation.
Diabetes causes the level of sugar in your blood to be higher than normal. Over time, the high blood sugar levels damage your blood vessels and nerves. So this is why people who don't control or can't control their blood sugar levels seem more likely to have diabetic neuropathy. Also, men are more likely to have diabetic neuropathy than women, as well as, high cholesterol levels. Smoking can also increase your risk.
Diabetic neuropathy causes numbness in the feet and toes it can lead to ulcers. Mainly because the ulcer can form and continually get worse without the person knowing it. They will not be able to tell that there an ulcer unless they are checking their feet on a daily basis. It is very important that a diabetic check their feet daily and look for signs of ulcers forming.
Diabetic Foot Management
Prevention is very important and following the appropriate advice is vital. This will involve regular check-ups to ensure good foot health. It goes without saying that prompt treatment for any foot problems is important and you should visit your physician immediately if you suspect any foot problems.
Prevention of possible long-term problems may also be appropriate, with the use of modified footwear, orthoses and surgery to correct deformity. Your physician can also help with prevention of possible long-term problems with the use of modified footwear, orthoses and surgery to correct deformity. In cases where severe infection or lack of circulation are prevelant then salvage surgery might be required to re-estabilish the circulation or restrict the spread of infection by amputation.
What You Can Do
- Inspect your feet daily. Inspect for:
- Skin or nail problems: Look for cuts, scrapes, redness, drainage, swelling, bad odor, rash, discoloration, loss of hair on toes, injuries, or nail changes (deformed, striped, yellowed or discolored, thickened, or not growing).
- Signs of fracture: If your foot is swollen, red, hot, or has changed in size, shape, or direction, see your foot and ankle surgeon immediately.
- Don’t ignore leg pain. Pain in the leg that occurs at night or with a little activity could mean you have a blocked artery. Seek care immediately.
- Nail cutting. If you have any nail problems, hard nails, or reduced feeling in your feet, your toenails should be properly trimmed.
- No “bathroom surgery.” Never trim calluses or corns yourself, and don’t use over-the-counter medicated pads.
- Keep floors free of sharp objects. Make sure there are no needles, insulin syringes, or other sharp objects on the floor.
- Don’t go barefoot. Wear shoes, indoors and outdoors.
- Check shoes and socks. Shake out your shoes before putting them on. Make sure your socks aren’t bunched up.
- Have your circulation and sense of feeling tested. Your foot and ankle surgeon will perform tests to see if you’ve lost any feeling or circulation.