Peripheral Vascular Disease
Diabetes and Your Feet
As you may know Diabetes or hyperglycemia, is high blood glucose. As many as one in three adults in the United States will have high blood sugar levels indicating diabetes. Because it is a chronic disease, it is important for people with diabetes to think about the long-term effects of diabetes on their legs and feet.
As a result of diabetes, the feet may become susceptible to many different types of problems including the following.
- Sores & Ulcers: Diabetic foot ulcers can crop up due to foot deformities, pressure points, and calluses. Complications of diabetic ulcers may or may not cause pain and can be accompanied by swelling, discomfort, redness, itching, burning, and irritation.
- Fungal Infections: Athlete`s foot is more common in people with diabetes but can be cured with antifungal treatments prescribed by any of our foot and ankle specialists. Athlete`s foot causes dry cracked skin which can lead to more serious conditions such as ulcers, bacterial infections or cellulitis. Itching and burning are the most common symptoms of athlete`s foot. It`s important to note that those symptoms may go unnoticed by a person with diabetic neuropathy.
- Peripheral Arterial Disease: or PAD happens when there is a buildup of cholesterol and plaque in the blood vessels of the lower extremities causing decreased blood flow to the legs and feet. PAD commonly affects people with type 2 diabetes and those who are prone to heart disease. Common signs of PAD include pain in legs and feet, non-healing sores or wounds on feet or legs, color changes in your feet, and decreased toenail and hair growth on legs or toes.
- Peripheral Neuropathy or Nerve Damage: It is very common for people with diabetes to be affected by peripheral neuropathy. Symptoms of diabetic neuropathy include pain or numbness in your legs or feet, sharp pains or cramps, muscle weakness, loss of reflexes, and loss of balance and coordination. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms and you are diabetic, it is important to visit your podiatrist immediately.
- Charcot Foot: This condition typically affects those who are diabetic, have neuropathy, and occurs when the foot bones weaken. The weakened bones become susceptible to fractures in the feet and ankles. This can result in fallen arches and collapsed joints causing bone deformities that can alter the foot shape. Charcot foot is a serious disease that leads to deformities and eventual disability which is why diabetics and others with neuropathy should seek immediate care.
Proper Diabetic Foot Care
For the diabetic, proper and thorough foot care is imperative. Diabetics should check their feet daily for early detection of foot problems or injuries.
Here are proper foot care suggestions for diabetics to follow:
- Keep feet clean, warm, and dry.
- Wear shoes that are comfortable and do not wear the same pair every day. Diabetic shoes are highly recommended. Consult your podiatrist to determine if you qualify for diabetic shoes and obtain a prescription for them.
- Always wear clean, dry socks without tears or irritating seams. Wearing white socks will allow you to easily spot stains from infections, which is especially important for those with neuropathy or compromised sensation.
- Do not leave feet exposed or unprotected. Sleep in loose socks and do not walk barefoot.
- Never expose feet to heat or high water temperatures.
- Maintain better foot circulation by avoiding the following: smoking, stockings or socks with tight elastic bands, or cross feet or legs when sitting.
- Carefully shape toenails straight across with an emery board to avoid ingrown toenails which can lead to infections.
- Do not use over-the-counter foot products such as antiseptic solutions, plasters, tapes, or anything sticky that can damage the skin and lead to wounds.
- Use moisturizer to keep skin supple (except between toes).
- Do not treat corns or calluses at home; see a doctor for care to prevent infection.
Village Podiatry Center’s Diabetic Foot Care Program includes:
- Routine nail care and foot inspections
- Patient education for self-help
- Wound care
- Surgical care when needed
- Peripheral Vascular Disease
- Diabetic Shoes
- Custom Orthotics
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