According to the American Diabetes Association, about 15.7 million people (5.9 percent of the United States population) have diabetes. Nervous system damage (also called neuropathy) affects about 60 to 70 percent of people with diabetes and is a major complication that may cause diabetics to lose feeling in their feet or hands.
Foot problems are a big risk in diabetics. Diabetics must constantly monitor their feet or face severe consequences, including amputation. With a diabetic foot, a wound as small as a blister from wearing a shoe that's too tight can lead to a lot of damage. Diabetes decreases blood flow, so injuries are slow to heal. When a wound is not healing, is at risk for infection and infections spread quickly in diabetics.
When a diabetic foot becomes numb, it may be at risk for deformity. One way this happens is through ulcers. Small, unattended cuts become open sores, which may then become infected. Another way is the bone condition CharcotFoot. This is one of the most serious foot problems diabetics face. It warps the shape of the foot when bones fracture and disintegrate, and yet, because of numbness there is no pain, and the individual continues to walk on the foot. Our practice can treat diabetic foot ulcers and early phases of Charcot (pronounced "sharko") fractures using a total contact cast and prevent more serious damage or deformity. This treatment allows the ulcer to heal by distributing weight and relieving pressure. For Charcot Foot, the cast controls foot movement and supports its contours
If you have diabetes, you should inspect your feet every day. Look for puncture wounds, bruises, pressure areas, redness, warmth, blisters, ulcers, scratches, cuts, and nail discoloration. Get someone to help you, or use a mirror.
Take Care of Your Diabetes
1.Make healthy life style choices to keep your blood sugar close to normal. Work with your health care team to create a diabetes plan that fits your life style.
2.Check Your Feet Every Day. You may have foot problems that you may not be aware of. Check your feet for cuts, sores, red spots, swelling, or infected toenails. Checking your feet should become part of your daily routine. If you have trouble bending over to see your feet, use a plastic mirror to help. You can also ask a family member to help you. Important Reminder Â¬ Be sure to call your doctor immediately if a cut, sore, blister, or bruise on your foot does not heal after one day.
3.Wash Your Feet Every Day. Wash your feet in warm, NOT HOT, water. Do not soak your feet because your skin will get dry. Before bathing or showering, test the water to make sure it is not too hot. You should use a thermometer or your elbow. Dry your feet well. Be sure to dry between your toes. Use talcum powder to keep the skin dry between the toes.
4.Keep the Skin Soft and Smooth. Rub a thin coat of skin lotion or crÃ¨me on the tops and bottoms of the feet. Do not put lotion between your toes, because this might cause infection.
5.Trim your Toenails Each Week or When Needed. Trim your toenails with clippers after you wash and dry your feet. Trim the toenails so there is no irritation to the skin surrounding the nails and smooth them with an emery board or nail file. If you're nails are thick or yellowed, DO NOT cut your own nails, have a doctor trim them.
6.Wear Shoes and Socks At All Times. Wear shoes and socks at all times. Do not walk barefoot, not even indoors. It is extremely easy to step on something and hurt your feet. Always wear seamless socks, stockings, and nylons with your shoes to help avoid the possibility of blisters and sores developing. Be sure to choose seamless socks that are made of materials that wick moisture away from your feet and absorb shock and shear. Socks made of these materials help keep your feet dry. Always check the insides of your shoes before putting them on. Make sure the lining is smooth and there are no foreign objects in the shoe, such as pebbles. Wear shoes that fit well and protect your feet.
7.Protect Your Feet From Hot and Cold. Always wear shoes at the beach or on hot pavement. Put sunscreen on the tops of your feet for protection from the sun. Keep your feet away from radiators or open fires. DO NOT use hot water bottle or heating pads on your feet. If your feet are cold, wear seamless socks at night. Lined boots are good to keep your feet warm in the winter. Choose socks carefully. DO NOT wear socks with seams or bumpy areas. Choose padded socks to protect your feet and make walking more comfortable. In cold weather, check your feet often to keep your feet warm avoid frostbite.
8.Keep the Blood Flowing to Your Feet. DO NOT cross your legs for long periods of time. DO NOT wear tight socks, elastic, or rubber bands, or garters around your legs. DO NOT wear restrictive footwear or foot products. Foot products that can cut off circulation to the feet, such as products with elastic, should not be worn by diabetics. DO NOT smoke. Smoking reduces blood flow to your feet. If you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol, work with your health care team to lower it.
9.Be More Active. Ask your doctor to plan an exercise program that is right for you. Walking, dancing, swimming, and bicycling are good forms of exercise that are easy on the feet. Avoid all activities that are hard on the feet, such as running and jumping. Always include a short warm-up or cool-down period. Wear protective walking or athletic shoes that fit well and offer good support.
10.Communicate With Your Doctor. Ask your doctor to check the sense of feeling and pulses in your feet at least once a year. Ask your doctor to tell you immediately if you have serious foot problems. Ask your doctor for proper footcare tips.
Contact our office immediately if you experience any injury to your foot. Even a minor injury is an emergency for a patient with diabetes.