If you live with diabetes, you already know it’s important for you and your doctor to manage it closely and well. You do your part by eating right, exercising, and bringing up anything unusual to your doctor that may be related to your diabetes and can potentially affect your vision, kidneys, cardiovascular system, and more.
Another profound way diabetes impacts you is your foot health. You’re at risk for several complications that can become serious quickly, so vigilance and the care of a great podiatrist are essential.
Our expert podiatry team at Premier Foot & Ankle treats many people living with diabetes and provides relief from foot problems and discomfort.
As we recognize National Diabetes Month, it’s the ideal time to discuss foot conditions that can arise when you have diabetes and the importance of podiatric care. Here’s what to watch for.
1. Nerve damage
Neuropathy is diabetic nerve damage caused by decreased blood flow that makes you less able to differentiate when your feet are hot or cold. You lose sensation in your feet as well, making it hard to determine if you’ve sustained a cut, scratch, or other injury to your foot.
For example, you could develop a blister or get a scratch that breaks your skin from a sharp pebble in your shoe and be completely oblivious. Having diabetic neuropathy means that even a seemingly insignificant injury can get infected, which has serious consequences for those with diabetes.
A small injury can lead to an infection on your skin or in your bone, which can turn into an abscess. Or gangrene (when tissue dies) can develop, which often requires amputation. Minor foot injuries can also turn into ulcers that either take a long time to heal or don’t heal at all, because your diabetes suppresses your immune system.
We offer innovative neuropathy testing with SudoscanⓇ, a noninvasive way to measure your sweat gland function and small nerve fiber viability.
2. Problems with your foot skin
Nerve damage can cause dysregulation of the oil and sweat production in your feet, causing your skin to dry out and even crack. This again puts you at risk for infection and worse. It’s important to keep your feet moisturized, but skip applying moisturizer between your toes, because that increases your risk for infection.
These thickened skin patches usually develop on your soles from friction. Your skin becomes hard, dry, and flaky. Calluses put a person with diabetes at risk for infection because they can crack and become infected.
4. Peripheral artery disease (PAD)
PAD is a condition that reduces blood flow to your feet. When you combine this with numbness caused by neuropathy, it’s a recipe that can lead to ulcers and if left untreated, amputation.
It’s vital to establish a relationship with a talented and compassionate podiatrist, and every Premier Foot & Ankle provider fits this bill! Your foot health is our top priority.
Prevention and treatment for diabetic foot conditions
Key steps that prevent diabetes-related foot problems include:
- Inspecting your feet daily for cuts, nicks, or signs of infection
- Daily washing, drying, and moisturizing your feet
- Wearing socks with your shoes
- Avoiding ill-fitting, uncomfortable shoes
- Refraining from smoking
- Trimming your toenails straight across, rather than making them shorter at the sides
- Wiggling your toes periodically and elevating your feet when sitting to help blood flow
- Avoiding going barefoot
- Staying active and choosing foot-friendly exercises, like walking and cycling
- Eating well
- Controlling your blood sugar
It’s important not to try to treat or remove things like calluses yourself — best to leave that to your Premier Foot & Ankle podiatrist.
Your doctor may recommend wearing custom orthotics or inserts to prevent foot injuries. If you’re dealing with foot ulcers, they may prescribe antibiotics or other medications or recommend surgical debridement (removal of dead tissue) or toe amputation, and a range of wound care options.
We also offer EPATⓇ therapy treatment, which stimulates blood flow and encourages wound healing, PodiathermⓇ, a treatment that employs radiofrequency energy to relieve foot pain, and vascular testing for PAD.
A regenerative medicine technique, platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy, harnesses your body’s own healing powers to address foot wounds.
To ensure you’re getting superb diabetic foot care, contact one of our five convenient Texas locations to schedule an appointment. Call today or book online anytime.