Diabetic Foot Care
If you have diabetes, you need to pay extra special attention to the health of your feet.
This is not optional. For far too many people—more than 70,000 per year in the U.S. alone—it’s the difference between living another healthy year vs. losing a toe, foot, or leg forever to a preventable amputation.
Don’t want to join that crowd? We didn’t think so. And the good news is that you don’t have to.
By practicing good preventative care and addressing acute concerns swiftly and decisively, almost all the worst foot and ankle complications of diabetes can be prevented. And this is something that our office can absolutely help you with.
Why Is Diabetes So Dangerous for Feet?
It comes down to a combination of factors, both of which can be triggered by chronically elevated levels of sugar in the blood: poor circulation and neuropathy.
- Circulation: Diabetes can both constrict and permanently damage blood vessels supplying the legs and feet, reducing the blood flow to these extremities. That means less oxygen and nutrients get where they need to go. It also means that your body can’t close wounds, heal injuries, or fight off infections as well as it should.
- Neuropathy: These same factors can also bring about damage and decay to the nerves in your feet and ankles. As the damage gets worse, mild tingling can slowly morph into near-constant, extreme pain—then total numbness as the nerves completely disintegrate.
With neuropathy, you can’t feel injuries, cuts, or damage to your feet—so you may not notice them quickly. Combine that with compromised tissue healing and immunity, and you have a recipe for the development of chronic, infected foot wounds—which may have begun as something as simple as a small cut or popped blister.
Without swift, comprehensive treatment, those infections may spiral out of control into something that will require a major amputation just to keep you alive.
In other words? This is not a path you want to go down.
Regular Podiatric Check-Ups Can Save Your Feet
One of the important things you must realize about diabetic foot complications is that the underlying causes develop very slowly. By the time you realize your feet have been compromised by circulatory issues and neuropathy, the damage may already be extensive, and your risk very high.
But while the causes develop gradually, the effects (wounds, injuries, infection) can develop quickly, especially if you aren’t paying close attention to your feet.
One way you can help significantly lower your risk is by scheduling a diabetic foot exam with Cheyenne Foot & Ankle once per year (or more frequently, depending on your history of foot problems), as well as any time you develop a foot problem.
At this exam, we’ll perform a diabetic foot screening to help catch the early warning signs of diabetic complications. We’ll also talk with you about your symptoms (if any), examine the fit of your footwear, and identify and deal with any potential health risks (such as bone deformities, ingrown toenails, dry and cracked skin, etc.)
Depending on what the comprehensive exam reveals, we may recommend further treatment options, such as:
- Wound care
- Orthotic inserts
- Dietary supplements to improve blood flow and nerve health
- Diet / exercise changes
- Footwear changes
Remember, while diabetic foot problems often have a very gradual onset, nerve and circulatory problems can be extremely difficult to reverse and there is no sudden cure. Getting out in front of complications before they happen is by far the most effective way to guarantee long-term quality of life.
Proper Preventative Care at Home Is Critical
While annual checkups with us are an extremely important component of maintaining foot health with diabetes, it’s what you do the other 364 days of the year that makes the biggest difference. So remember to:
- Carefully examine your feet and toes at least once per day, at a regular time so that you don’t forget. Note anything that looks unusual or suspicious. Call us immediately if you develop an ulcer, ingrown toenail, or other foot problem that doesn’t improve after a couple of days.
- Manage your diabetes effectively, in consultation with your primary care physician and any other members of your medical team. This typically involves regularly checking your sugar, maintaining a healthy diet, and getting plenty of exercise.
- Protect your feet with proper footwear. Always wear comfortable, breathable, good-fitting socks and shoes—especially when out and about, but even indoors. If necessary, we may provide you with orthotic inserts, or recommend specific shoes or socks to wear.
- Not to sound like a broken record here, but contact us immediately if you develop a cut or injury to your foot that is not getting better or is worsening.
As we said, with a combination of preventative maintenance and swift treatment for acute problems, your chances of keeping your feet (and staying healthy, mobile, and active) will improve dramatically.
Don’t wait until it’s too late to start taking care of your diabetic feet! If you are currently experiencing any problems or need to schedule your annual checkup, call our office today at (719) 576-2080 or request an appointment online.