Did you know that more than 37 million Americans live with diabetes? Although many are aware of its impact on blood sugar levels and overall health, not everyone realizes the toll it can take on your feet.
Diabetic foot problems are more common than you might think. They can lead to serious complications if left untreated, and up to one in three people with diabetes will get a foot ulcer in their lifetime.
That means foot care is an essential part of diabetes management, and Lisa Burson, DPM, Joe Aoun, DPM, and our team at The Foot & Ankle Specialists offer advanced diabetic foot care for our patients in Bay City, Caro, and Lapeer, Michigan.
Here’s what you need to know about the ways diabetes can affect your feet and what you can do to protect your health.
Neuropathy is a common complication of diabetes, and it can have a significant impact on your foot health. Neuropathy develops when high blood sugar levels damage your nerves over time, leading to a loss of sensation in specific areas of your body.
When neuropathy affects the nerves in your feet, it makes it difficult to detect temperature changes, pain, or injuries. Small cuts, scrapes, and blisters easily go unnoticed and increase your risk of infection.
Diabetes also causes poor circulation, which means blood doesn't flow as efficiently to your feet. Reduced blood flow can slow down your body’s healing process and make it harder for your immune system to fight off infections.
Without sufficient blood supply, even minor injuries can escalate into serious problems. Because reduced sensations make it hard to recognize those injuries when they happen, your risk of ulcers, and even gangrene, rises.
Foot ulcers are open sores that form on your skin. They’re fairly common among people with diabetes, and they can have some of the most severe consequences of diabetes-related foot problems.
Foot ulcers typically develop because of a combination of factors, like neuropathy, poor circulation, and pressure on specific points in your feet. Foot ulcers can easily get infected and, in extreme cases, may require amputation.
When you have diabetes, you’re also at risk of Charcot foot —a progressive disorder that weakens the bones in your foot. Early detection and treatment are vital to prevent the progression of Charcot foot.
Neuropathy can impact your ability to feel pain associated with bone fractures or other injuries. As a result, you may continue to walk on the affected foot, worsening the damage and leading to deformities and instabilities.
How to lower your risk of diabetic foot complications
The risks of diabetic foot complications are significant, but you can take steps to keep your feet healthy. Dr. Burson and Dr. Aoun provide comprehensive diabetic foot care, and we’re here to help.
A few of the best ways to protect your feet are:
- Controlling your blood sugar levels
- Inspecting your feet daily for redness, swelling, or injury
- Washing and thoroughly drying your feet daily
- Trimming your nails carefully
- Wearing comfortable, properly-fitted shoes
We also recommend regular professional foot exams, at which time we look for early signs of issues like ulcers and Charcot foot. Proactive care is the best way to treat complications and improve your health.
Diabetes requires careful management, and you don’t have to do it alone. Our team works with you to evaluate the toll it can take on your feet and takes proactive steps to help you maintain better foot health.
Contact us to schedule a diabetic foot consultation, and start getting the care you need.