November may be American Diabetes Month, but that’s mainly just in terms of raising awareness. If you live with diabetes, you’re certainly aware of every day of the year!
Diabetic foot care is a critical part of any diabetes management plan that should not be overlooked by anyone, regardless of whether they have a history of foot problems or not. Even if things seem perfectly fine now, making sound, preventative choices can help fight the progression of diabetes and provide your feet with much better circumstances in the future.
Fortunately, maintaining good foot health with diabetes is not terribly difficult. It does take some diligence and commitment, though. The progression of diabetes can be like a very gentle current; it might not seem like much at first, but you can find yourself a long way downstream if you don’t pay attention.
What Can Diabetes Do to Your Feet?
Of course, we emphasize foot care here. This is a podiatry practice, after all! But proper diabetic foot care is truly an important issue in general.
While diabetes affects many areas of the body, the feet are in a particularly vulnerable position. They tend to be affected more by poor circulation than the rest of the body, given their distance from the heart. It takes more effort to pump blood to the feet, so any problems with circulation tend to affect them first.
Circulatory problems from diabetes, as well as nerve damage and additional problems, can put the feet at a terrible disadvantage:
- Because circulation is poor, wounds can take longer to heal, or not heal at all without medical intervention.
- Because nerves are damaged, injuries to the feet may not even be felt and go unnoticed.
These two consequences together account for many cases where injuries to the feet go unnoticed, providing plenty of opportunity for them to worsen into sores and deep ulcers. These can then become infected, which can result in a need to remove the foot.
That happens about 73,000 times per year in the United States.
But once again, it is not difficult to guard yourself against such complications. Here are some simple yet important tips.
Check Your Feet Every Day
This is the most important thing you can do for your foot health, and it really is as basic as this.
Every day, take a few moments to look over your feet for any signs of damage or trouble. Check tops, bottoms, and between the toes, searching for:
- Discolored areas
- Fungal infections
- Ingrown toenails
- Essentially, you are looking for anything that is out of the ordinary.
If you do find an area of concern, use your best judgment and give us a call if it is something that should have prompt attention or doesn’t improve after a day or two. Conditions such as warts and ingrown toenails are not something you should try to treat yourself. Leave it to us instead for a greatly reduced risk of further complications.
When we say “every day,” we do mean it. Starting now and developing a good habit of foot inspection will ensure that you’re there to catch something if it ever does happen. Not only that, but you’ll also develop a great read on what your feet should and should not be like!
Choose a time that you know you can commit to every day. Just before going to sleep, or before or after you jump in the shower are all good opportunities.
If you can’t easily inspect all of your feet, there are a few tricks that can help. Use a mirror or even a selfie stick to get a better angle on things. The help of a loved one can also be invaluable.
Protect Your Feet in Daily Living
What’s better than finding and addressing a problem early? Preventing it from happening in the first place!
As diabetes progresses over time, it can become easier and easier for problems to develop on your feet. However, there is plenty you can do to mitigate the risk of damage without reducing your quality of life.
- Wear diabetic socks and shoes. This footwear is designed to reduce potential points of pressure and friction on the feet as much as possible. Many models are even seamless to provide less for your feet to rub against. Diabetic footwear comes in a wide variety of styles and for varying purposes, including for anyone who is more athletically minded.
- Check shoes before wearing. This includes shaking them out and feeling inside them. You definitely don’t want to end up unknowingly walking on a sharp rock or other harmful object all day.
- Reduce your barefoot time. The less exposed your feet are, the lower the risk of damage and injury. This can include wearing clean shoes indoors, but should especially mean limiting your barefoot time outdoors as much as possible.
- Trim your nails carefully. Always cut straight across and mildly file down sharp corners. Cutting too short or too rounded can increase your risk of ingrown toenails.
Diabetic Foot Care Starts Now
Don’t merely be reactive when it comes to diabetes and its effects on your feet. Be proactive, too! Taking the initiative now, no matter what stage of diabetes you are currently at, can mean all the difference in the coming years.
We work with our patients to organize diabetic foot care plans that best suit their needs, and we’ll be happy to do the same for you. We can provide equipment, connect you with resources, and provide regular check-ups to ensure what you’re doing is working best for you.
Please call either of our two area offices to schedule an appointment: