Being diagnosed with diabetes is a literal life-changer. It often asks you to make shifts in your habits, diet, daily routine, and fitness.
Your feet might not be the first thing you think about when adapting to a diabetic lifestyle, but it is very important that they be considered! When it comes to the negative effects diabetes can have on your body, the feet are in a particularly vulnerable and sometimes dangerous position.
Thankfully, diabetic foot care is not difficult to work into your life. The earlier you start following good guidelines for your feet and detect potential concerns, the better your odds of avoiding problems that can impede your enjoyment of life.
What Diabetes Can Do to Your Feet
Diabetes is of particular focus for podiatrists because of the severe harm it can cause to feet if left unchecked.
Some general effects of diabetes can already put feet at a disadvantage. The first is peripheral artery disease (PAD), which can impair circulation throughout the body.
Since the feet are located so far from the heart, it is already more of a challenge to get blood to them normally (think of how your feet are one of the first parts of you to get cold!). Impeding that blood flow further means that oxygen and nutrients are having an even harder time getting to the feet.
Our cells depend on blood flow to get the energy and tools they need to repair. This means that, with poor circulation, injuries to the feet can take much longer to heal than they would normally.
Poor circulation also means that our nerves are not receiving nourishment as much as they need it, either. Combined with other effects of diabetes, this can lead to neuropathy, or damage to the nerves.
Damage to the nerves can cause a loss of sensation in the feet. Add this to the propensity for cuts and sores not to heal quickly and it’s a recipe for disaster.
A small cut to the foot, if not detected, will continue to be walked on and left untreated. It could open up into a larger wound and even an ulcer. The chance of infection rises and, with infection, comes danger to life and the risk of amputation.
This happens too frequently—about 73,000 diabetic amputations of the lower limb per year in the United States alone.
With proper diabetic foot care, however, these situations can easily be avoided!
What Makes Up Diabetic Foot Care?
A good diabetic foot care plan consists of consistent self care, staying connected with a professional, and addressing any problems that arise before they get a chance to become serious.
The best habit you can develop for your feet is to perform a daily self-exam. Using your eyes and even your hands, inspect your feet to detect any cuts, sores, blisters, discolorations, or anything else out of the ordinary.
If you do find something that raises an alarm or does not show sign of improvement after a couple days, let us know. Problems can be treated early before becoming high-risk.
Also, if you smoke, you must stop. It kills your circulation and simply makes all the complications of diabetes that much worse.
Even when your exams find no problems, it is still vital to have a periodic exam by a professional podiatrist. We can often discover problems or points of concern in their earliest stages, or provide preventative care to help a problem from starting in the first place.
Such treatments can include:
- Laser therapy, for pain management and accelerated healing
- Diabetic shoes and inserts, to redistribute pressure away from problem areas
- Nutritional support and advice
Depending on your individual case and needs, we may refer you to additional diabetic experts or provide other treatments. The key is in developing a history to understand the best and most effective ways to keep your feet healthy.
If you have diabetes, you don’t have to accept living with pain or troubles. You have options, and we can help you determine the ways you can keep doing what you love.
Our offices in Enid and Oklahoma City are ready to hear from you. Give us a call at (405) 947-8041 or fill out our online contact form.