For people suffering from diabetes, there are a number of additional health risks and precautions to take in order to avoid potentially serious complications. One of the common complications associated with diabetes is peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage). While the condition can produce symptoms and affect nerves anywhere in the body, it is most common in the nerves of the hands, legs, and feet. A lack of full sensation in the feet due to nerve damage can make it difficult for diabetics to experience the warning signs of cuts, infections, or other wounds to the feet.
How to Care for Your Feet After a Diabetes Diagnosis
As with any health condition and illness, there are a number of precautions that diabetic patients can take to help manage their disease and maintain a healthy, active lifestyle. Where foot care is concerned, it makes sense for diabetic patients to follow a simple checklist:
- Check and maintain normal levels of blood sugar daily. See your primary care physician and/or endocrinologist for medical management of diabetes mellitus to avoid the serious complications of untreated diabetes.
- Check your feet every day and look for any changes in skin color, texture, or the presence of sores or ulcers.
- Keep your feet clean and dry, especially between the toes, and moisturize regularly to avoid cracks and cuts on the heels of the feet.
- Avoid ingrown toenails. For people living with diabetes, common problems that are little more than a nuisance for most people--such as corns, calluses, cuts, blisters, and ingrown toenails--can lead to infections that can threaten a diabetic patient's health. Keeping the toenails short and well trimmed, and getting treatment for even small foot or ankle problems is very important.
- Schedule a yearly check-up with your primary care physician and with a podiatrist. Even in the absence of noticeable symptoms like pain and swelling, a foot specialist can screen diabetic patients for problems with circulation and blood pressure in the feet that could lead to other health complications.
Who Can Help?
The types of doctors that can help are certain orthopedic surgeons specialized in foot surgery and podiatric surgeons that have completed training in foot and ankle surgery. It is always best for patients to choose a doctor that makes them feel comfortable and that they trust. Surgery is typically reserved for more severe deformities or infections, and patient's should weigh all of their options before deciding which treatment is best suited for them. The surgeon will select the procedure that is appropriate for your injury based on all of the clinical exam, blood tests and all of the radiologic information available.
For More Information:
There are some fantastic resources online for patients to research their diagnosis and related treatments. For more information, check out the Patient Education link on this website or resources published by the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons (ACFAS) or The American Foot and Ankle Orthopedic Society (AOFAS).
ACFAS Patient Education: https://www.foothealthfacts.or...
AOFAS Patient Education: https://www.footcaremd.org/con...