Diabetes and your Feet By Dr. Brooke Dix, DPM
Are You Diabetic? How long ago were you diagnosed?
Do you have any foot problems? Have you seen a foot doctor?
Many diabetic patients in the USA suffer from neuropathy pain, circulation problems, and skin problems on their feet. However, most patients with diabetes wait till the problem becomes an emergency and are admitted to the hospital many times leading to amputation.
According to the American Diabetes Association, 25.8 million children and adults in United States have diabetes; 8.3% of the U.S. population. The World Health Organization estimates that number to increase to 380 million people worldwide by 2025.
Nervous system damage (also called neuropathy) affects about 60 to 70 percent of people with diabetes and is a major complication that may cause diabetics to lose feeling in their feet or hands.
If you have nerve damage, you may not be able to feel your feet normally. With diabetes, you may not be able to properly sense minor injuries, such as cuts, scrapes and blisters-all signs of abnormal wear, tear, and foot strain. Additionally, if you have common foot abnormalities such as flat feet, bunions, or hammertoes, you may be at greater risk for a diabetic wound leading to amputation.
Diabetes also leads to decreases blood flow, so injuries are slow to heal. When your wound is not healing, it's at risk for infection of skin and bone, again leading to amputation.
If you have diabetes, you should inspect your feet every day. Look for puncture wounds, bruises, pressure areas, redness, warmth, blisters, ulcers, scratches, cuts and nail problems.
Here's some basic advice for taking care of your feet:
Always keep your feet warm.
Don't put your feet on radiators or in front of the fireplace.
Don't smoke or sit cross-legged. Both decrease blood supply to your feet.
Don't use antiseptic solutions, drugstore medications, heating pads or sharp instruments on your feet.
Allow a podiatrist to trim your toenails. If you accidentally cut yourself, you are at risk of infection.
Use quality lotion to keep the skin of your feet soft and moist, but don't put any lotion between your toes.
Wear loose socks to bed.
When drying your feet, pat each foot with a towel and be careful between your toes.
Buy shoes that are comfortable without a "breaking in" period. Check how your shoe fits in width, length, back, bottom of heel, and sole. Avoid pointed-toe styles and high heels. Don't lace your shoes too tightly or loosely. Medicare has a shoe program for people with Diabetes.
Choose socks and stockings carefully. Thin cotton socks are more absorbent for summer wear. Avoid stockings with elastic tops.
A person with diabetes need to see their foot doctor at least every 3 to 6 months. Podiatrists are the first line of defense when it comes to preventing or treating diabetic foot infections. Most insurances provide coverage for this preventative routine foot care and some will even pay for doctor prescribed orthopedic shoes.
Diabetes can be extremely dangerous to your feet, so take precautions now. You can avoid losing a toe, foot, or leg (amputation) by following proper prevention technique.
Remember, prevention is the key to saving your feet and eliminating pain.