Easy but Vital Tips for Diabetic Foot Care
November is Diabetes Awareness Month. We know that’s not exactly a celebratory kind of commemoration, but it’s still extremely important to recognize how this condition can affect lives.
Properly managing diabetes will almost always require some changes to your lifestyle. It’s about staying on top of sugar levels, being more mindful of diet, and generally taking steps to protect yourself against unwelcome and often dangerous complications.
While diabetic care focuses on many areas of the body—as it should—our particular focus here remains, naturally, on the feet. Our podiatry practice cares for patients who have diabetic wounds and other complications, but we would much prefer that you never develop problems that severe in the first place!
Diabetic foot care is, fortunately, not really that difficult. But it must be something you are committed to on a daily basis. Understanding how diabetes can ruin your feet will show why this is the case.
The Slow Creep of Diabetes Damage
The complications of diabetes can have two prominent effects on the feet—and these two effects can work in tandem to create particularly devastating situations.
The first complication is a reduction in circulation to the feet. It is already more of a challenge for our bodies to get blood to our feet than other areas of our bodies, simply due to how far they are from our hearts. As diabetes causes damage to and narrows our circulatory system, this flow to the feet further diminishes.
As access to nutrients and growth factors in the blood decrease, so too does the ability of the body to remain healthy and properly heal. When you suffer a cut or other injury to the foot, it will start to take longer to heal. Under certain conditions, an injury might not heal at all without some help.
The second complication is damage to the nerves of the feet. This is partly due to a lack of circulation, but other complications can be in play, too.
As nerves in the feet become damaged and even die off, it can lead to haywire sensations including burning, tingling, and sharp pain. Numbness is the biggest concern, however.
With a loss of sensation to the feet, damage to them can go largely unnoticed. You might think it unlikely at first that you would not be able to tell if you have stepped on something sharp or suffered some other form of injury, but loss of nerve health over time makes this very possible.
If a reduced healing ability and a loss of sensation are both factors, this paves the way for greater dangers than either case on its own. A small cut on the foot can go unnoticed, which means someone may continue to walk on it. With the diminished ability to heal, that cut may stick around for some time, growing larger and opening more as weight is placed upon it. This can lead to a full on diabetic ulcer and a higher risk of infection.
In the worst-case scenario, that infected wounds may need to be amputated to stop it from spreading and damaging more healthy tissue.
We never want any of the above to happen to anyone. That is why we recommend that you make diabetic foot care a healthy habit as early as possible if you have been diagnosed with diabetes.
Easy Diabetic Foot Care Tips to Start Now
Even if your feet feel perfectly fine right now, there is absolutely no guarantee that they will stay that way. Like the proverbial frog in a boiling pot, diabetes has a way of changing things so slowly that you are not fully aware just how bad it has become.
By taking steps now, you can help ensure that you have good habits in place when you need them most. And fortunately, one of the best things you can do is not that difficult at all.
Inspect your feet daily for signs of trouble. Really, that’s it. This is one of the most important elements of diabetic foot care.
Find a time that works best for you, and can easily become a habit. You’re barefoot right before bed or a shower, right? Those times can work.
Just take a minute or two to look over your feet. Don’t be afraid to use your hands. And if you need more of an angle, a hand mirror or the help of a loved one can be very effective.
Look for anything that should not be there, including:
- Cuts or sores
- Ingrown Toenails
- Corns and Calluses
- Discolorations on the skin or nails
If you see anything, it’s worth keeping an eye on. If it doesn’t improve after a few days, give us a call. We can provide you further advice or ask you to come in for a professional look.
What else can you do as part of an overall diabetic foot care plan?
- Perform general diabetes management, including checking your blood sugar, exercising, and eating properly.
- Consider diabetic shoes and socks, which are designed to be particularly protective of feet, and limit your time going barefoot. Custom orthotics might also be helpful for some patients who have abnormal foot structures that place too much pressure in certain areas of the foot.
- Come to us for general foot care checkups at least once per year. We can discover problems you might not realize are problems, and can address them quickly before they have a chance to become something more detrimental.
A Little Attention Now Can Mean a Lot in the Future
Diabetic foot care matters, and not just during Diabetes Awareness Month.
If you have questions or concerns about your foot health, our practice is happy to help. Call Texas Foot & Ankle Center at (214) 660-0777 to schedule an appointment at our Dallas office, or fill out our online contact form to have a member of our staff reach out to you.
Doctor's Professional Building 1
1151 N. Buckner Boulevard, Suite 201
Dallas, TX 75218
Monday - Friday
8:00AM - 5:00PM
Closed for Lunch
12:00PM - 1:00PM