Diabetes is the primary cause of a great number of secondary foot problems seen in the podiatric office. Foot problems secondary to diabetes include ulcerations, cuts, scrapes, and can include foot deformities such as bunions and hammer toes. These problems are due largely to a three-headed combination of the loss of peripheral sensation caused by diabetic neuropathy, decreased peripheral circulation, and the high frequency and impact placed on the foot on a daily basis. Small cuts, scrapes, etc. can become ulcerations and even lead to amputation if they are not taken care of. Because of the loss of protective sensation in the extremities caused by diabetic neuropathy, unless the minor skin traumas are viewed or the incident is significant enough to remember, these minor traumas can often go unnoticed. Often, the first sign of a problem is bloody or pus drainage seen on the socks.
Proper diabetic foot care is important to prevent a small injury from turning into something more serious. The first step is to follow the instructions your primary care doctor gives to keep your blood glucose levels under control. This can help to prevent the onset and less the severity of neuropathy in the extremities. The second and most important measure in foot care is daily inspection of every surface of your feet. Use a mirror or ask for help if you are not able to see the bottoms of your feet. Pick a time every day to inspect your feet and stick to that plan. Wear well-fitting, wide-toed shoes that do not pinch or squeeze on your feet. Never walk around barefoot, wearing shoes and socks as often as possible. Be careful in extremes of temperature, especially in water, to avoid burns. NEVER use heating pads or hot water bottles. Keep your feet moisturized to avoid cracking and blistering. Keep your nails neat and trimmed. If you cannot cut your nails yourself, many Medicare patients qualify for coverage to have this performed in a podiatrist’s office. It is important to remain active and avoid long periods of sitting or lying without moving your feet and ankles. Activity improves circulation to the extremities and can improve sensation as well as healing of minor cuts and scrapes.
These steps can go a long way towards avoiding major lower extremity complications due to diabetes. If you notice wounds on your feet that do not seem to go away be sure to make an appointment with your podiatrist to avoid serious complications.
For any other questions on diabetic foot care and foot problems in general, be sure to visit us at www.yourfootdoctor.com .