Diabetes is a group of conditions 一 Type 1 diabetes, Type 2 diabetes, and gestational diabetes 一 that affects your body’s insulin and blood sugar levels.
While Type 2 diabetes often develops as a result of lifestyle factors, Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder that usually develops during childhood. If you have Type 1 diabetes, your pancreas doesn’t make any or enough insulin.
Because your body needs insulin to usher blood sugar out of your bloodstream and into your cells, a lack of insulin leads to high blood sugar levels, which can affect nearly every part of your body from your vision to your kidneys to your gums, and your feet aren’t exempt.
Below, our board-certified podiatrists and wound care specialists at Advanced Foot, Ankle, & Wound Specialists highlight the many ways Type 1 diabetes affects your feet and how we can help you manage the foot-related complications of diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes and your feet
People with Type 1 diabetes need to take insulin shots (or wear a pump), but even with these medications, they still must monitor their blood sugar carefully. If your blood sugar levels are chronically high, you’re at risk for:
High blood sugar levels damage your blood vessels, but they also damage your nerves. This is called diabetic neuropathy. The resulting nerve damage can cause:
- Burning sensations
Numbness can be particularly problematic because you may not notice a foot injury. For example, if you lose sensation in your foot, you might not notice a blister or a pebble in your shoe.
People with diabetes tend to have poor circulation in their feet, which means these little cuts and blisters can quickly become infected.
Nerve damage can also affect the shape of your foot. Charcot’s foot is a condition in which nerve damage weakens your bones, joints, and soft tissues. If you have this condition, the bottom of your foot might resemble a rocker bottom. Charcot’s foot also causes redness, warmth, and swelling.
Ulcers and gangrene
Decreased circulation makes it harder for your body to fight infections in your legs and feet. These slow-healing wounds are called ulcers, and if the infection doesn’t heal, it can lead to gangrene. Gangrene is tissue death due to a severe lack of blood flow and/or serious infection.
Increased risk of amputations
Each year 130,000 people with diabetes have an amputation. When infections can’t be controlled, you’re at risk of a foot or digit amputation.
Although an amputation may seem extreme, we only recommend it as a last resort to prevent a severe infection from spreading to the rest of your body 一 and it can save your life.
Diabetic foot care prevents complications
Here at Advanced Foot, Ankle, & Wound Specialists, we excel at diabetic foot care regardless of the type of diabetes you have.
Diabetic foot care is essential for managing foot issues, but it also plays a role in preventing problems. For example, professional toenail trimming can prevent ingrown nails and infections.
Depending on your needs, we may recommend any of the following:
- Lifestyle guidance, including how to properly moisturize your feet
- Toenail trimming and callus removal
- Ulcer treatments, including wound debridement and antibiotics
- Hyperbaric oxygen therapy
- Neuropathy treatments
If you have Type 1 diabetes and need help managing your foot-related diabetes complications, don’t wait until a small issue becomes a bigger one. Call the location of your choice or request an appointment online to get started with diabetic foot care.
We have offices in Fort Lauderdale (3), Tamarac, Hollywood, Coral Springs, and Boca Raton, Florida.