If you have diabetes, you have a greatly increased chance of foot problems. To be precise, you have a one in ten chance of developing stubborn foot ulcers, and a 50% chance of ending up with debilitating foot pain related to your diabetic condition.
At Foot and Ankle Care of Passaic in Lodi, New Jersey, Dr. Sean Rosenblum provides specialized foot care for diabetics, to help reduce the incidence of foot pain and other chronic issues.
Why diabetes can affect foot health
Uncontrolled blood sugar over long time periods can damage the small blood vessels in your circulatory system, especially the ones in your extremities, leading to peripheral vascular disease. Slowed blood circulation causes any wounds you get on your feet to be extremely slow to heal, leading to heightened risk of infection and potentially the need for amputation.
The nerves in your extremities can also be affected, causing peripheral neuropathy. This form of diabetic nerve damage can make it impossible to tell when you’ve injured your toe or foot, since sensations are blurred or blunted.
Since your feet feel numb, tingly, or you experience sharp stabs of pain for no reason, it can be easy to miss an injury. Neuropathy combined with vascular issues can spell disaster for diabetics, because an infected wound can turn gangrenous seemingly without warning (since your body’s natural warning system — pain — is shut down).
Preventing diabetic foot problems
The best way to keep from developing foot problems as a diabetic is to strictly control your blood sugar. This may mean adjusting your diet, taking oral medications to help reduce insulin resistance and improve natural insulin levels, or injecting insulin into your body to manage the amount of glucose in your blood after and between meals.
You should also pay very close attention to your toes and feet. Do a daily check of the sides, bottom, and tops of your feet as well as your heels and toes, looking for any signs of irritation. Wash regularly using warm, soapy water, and dry carefully between all of your toes to prevent fungal infections. Clip your toenails straight across, and moisturize your feet with a simple foot cream to prevent cracks in the skin.
Consider walking several times a day, not only to keep blood sugar levels under control, but to improve circulation in your legs and feet. A regular walking program can stop diabetic neuropathy from starting for some patients, and slow its progress in others.
Also, choose diabetes-friendly shoes. Shop for shoes carefully, selecting footwear that’s cushioned and fits perfectly for best results, and always wear socks with your shoes. Sandals should be chosen carefully to avoid injury to exposed areas of your feet, and shoes that pinch your heel or toes should be discarded.
Having foot issues and know you are, or think you might be, diabetic? Contact our office at 973-218-5720, or book an appointment online today.