Did you know that about half of people with diabetes have some sort of nerve damage? High blood sugar levels can damage the nerves in any part of your body, but nerve damage in the feet is rather common.
Unfortunately, nerve damage is just one of the many ways diabetes can affect your feet, but thankfully, there are many strategies you can implement to take care of your feet and reduce your risk of foot-related diabetes complications.
Our team members here at Advanced Foot, Ankle, & Wound Specialists are experts when it comes to diabetes foot care, and we encourage you to visit us in any of our southeast Florida locations to discuss your foot concerns.
In the meantime, let’s take a look at some of the reasons people with diabetes should take extra care of their feet.
Diabetes can lead to diabetic neuropathy
Diabetic neuropathy is a condition that affects the nerves in the feet and legs. It can lead to numbness, tingling, or loss of sensation in the feet. While numbness may seem preferable to foot pain, numbness brings its own set of complications.
If you can't feel your feet, you may not be able to feel pain or discomfort from injuries or blisters. Without timely detection and treatment, minor foot issues can escalate into more serious problems, such as foot ulcers or infections.
Other signs of nerve damage include burning or tingling sensations.
Diabetes affects blood circulation
Diabetes can also affect blood circulation, especially in your feet and legs. Poor circulation hinders your body’s ability to heal wounds effectively because the wounded area doesn’t receive the oxygen and other nutrients it needs.
Unfortunately, if your wounds don’t heal in a timely manner, you have a higher risk of infections.
Reduced blood flow doesn’t just delay healing. It also causes cramping, muscle weakness, and a higher likelihood of developing peripheral artery disease.
If you have poor circulation, you may benefit from:
- Wearing compression stockings
- Taking insulin to manage your blood sugar levels
- Taking medication
- Undergoing treatment for varicose veins
You’re more at risk for developing ulcers and infections
Foot ulcers 一 open lesions or sores that don’t seem to heal 一 are a common complication among diabetics. Even small cuts, blisters, or ingrown toenails can become serious problems if left untreated.
The combination of nerve damage and poor circulation makes it difficult for wounds to heal, and they can quickly develop into ulcers. These open sores are prone to infections, and because they are so slow-healing, they can spread to your surrounding tissues and bones.
Ulcers can also increase your risk of gangrene (tissue death) and the need for amputations. In fact, 130,000 amputations out of the total annual 200,000 amputations in the United States are related to diabetes.
Effective foot hygiene, including regular washing and drying, moisturizing, and wearing clean, breathable socks, can help prevent ulcers and infections.
Ill-fitting shoes can exacerbate issues when you have diabetes
Choosing the right footwear is crucial for optimal foot health for everyone, but it’s especially important if you have diabetes. Ill-fitting shoes can cause pressure points, blisters, and calluses.
Opt for shoes with a wide toe box, good arch support, and cushioning to reduce friction and pressure on your feet. Pair high-quality shoes with high-quality socks to prevent blisters. You may also find that moleskin pads help prevent blisters.
Custom-made orthotics may provide additional support and offload pressure from certain areas of your foot.
Tip: Regularly inspect your shoes for any signs of wear-and-tear and replace them when necessary. If your shoes hurt your feet, don’t wear them.
A good foot care routine can prevent problems
Establishing a regular foot care routine is essential for diabetics and can even help prevent some of these problems. Here are some key practices to incorporate:
- Wash your feet daily with lukewarm water and mild soap, then dry thoroughly, including between your toes
- Moisturize your feet to prevent dryness and cracking, but avoid applying lotion between the toes, as that can increase your risk of developing a fungal infection
- Trim your toenails straight across and avoid cutting too close to prevent ingrown toenails
- Inspect your feet daily for cuts, blisters, redness, swelling, or other red flags
- Avoid walking barefoot, and protect your feet from extreme temperatures
If problems do arise, skip at-home remedies and seek immediate podiatric attention for any foot issues or concerns.
Do your feet need a little extra TLC?
Taking extra care of your feet is crucial if you’re living with diabetes. Regular foot care, including daily self-examinations, maintaining proper blood sugar levels, wearing appropriate footwear, and seeking medical attention when needed can prevent complications and ensure optimal foot health.
But even with the best preventive measures in place, you may need to seek podiatric care. From diabetic foot exams to wound care, we offer everything you need for diabetic foot care under one roof in Tamarac, Coral Springs, Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood, and Boca Raton, Florida.
Call the location of your choice or use our online form to request an appointment.