Did you know that about 34 million people in the United States are living with diabetes? That’s about one in every ten Americans. Diabetic patients have a unique set of health concerns and potential complications. Along with an increased risk to develop problems with their eyes, kidneys, nerves and circulation, complications can also impact their feet. Podiatry physician, David Fine, DPM, has expert information and advice on how to best care for your feet if you have diabetes.
How Does Diabetes Affect Your Feet?
Consistently high blood sugar levels can cause gradual damage to your blood vessels. This restricts blood flow to other parts of your body, including your feet. You can develop diabetic neuropathy, or nerve damage, anywhere in the body.
Neuropathy in diabetic patients most commonly affects their feet. “Patients might have pain, tingling and burning sensations. They might even lose all sensation in their feet,” says Dr. Fine. When this happens, pain wouldn’t alert you to cuts or sores on your feet, increasing the risk of infection. In the worst-case scenario, infections that don’t heal along with poor circulation can lead to gangrene, and your doctor might have to amputate a toe, foot or leg to stop its spread.
Dr. Fine says, “One of the most challenging conditions we treat are patients with diabetic peripheral neuropathy. This can be very disconcerting to the patient and is often a red flag. Loss of protective sensation can lead to balance problems, foot infections, ulcers and musculoskeletal and neurovascular conditions like Charcot disease in the later stages.”
Signs of Diabetic Foot Problems
Make sure to bring any of these symptoms to your doctor’s attention right away:
- Calluses or corns
- Changes in skin color on feet
- Cracks between your toes
- Developing bunions
- Ingrown toenail
- Loss of sensation in your feet or legs
- Peeling or cracking on the soles of your feet
- Sores that don’t heal
- Swelling in your feet or legs
- Thickened or yellow toe nails
- Tingling, pins and needles sensation in your feet
Keeping Your Feet Healthy
Diabetes is a challenging condition and it’s important to take care of yourself. “Be sure to give your feet the attention they need every day as you continue watching your diet and taking your medicine,” says Dr. Fine. The first key to caring for your feet with diabetes is to keep your blood sugar levels in a healthy range. Here are some more tips to follow to keep your feet healthy if you or someone you care for is living with diabetes:
- Always wear shoes or slippers
- Check your feet every day
- Don’t go barefoot
- Don’t smoke
- Eat a nutritious diet
- Give yourself foot massages for better circulation
- Keep your blood moving with exercise you can handle, like walking
- Moisturize your feet with lotion, but not between the toes
- Contact your podiatrist for routine nail care
- Wash and dry your feet thoroughly every day
Feeling Whole for Life
At AdventHealth North Pinellas, we’re here to care for you like family. As Dr. Fine says, “We use the latest technologies in treating these conditions. As diabetes can be a multi-system complex disorder, we work side by side with primary care, endocrinology, vascular surgery, neurology, wound care and our nutritionists.” For more information or to make an appointment, reach our office directly at Call727-934-6797.
To register for Dr. Fine’s free Foot and Ankle Screenings on Friday, November 12th from 9am to 12pm, please call Call844-504-9378, or visit AdventHealth North Pinellas. Registration is required. We look forward to caring for you.