The Importance of Diabetic Foot Care

Millions of Americans are living with diabetes, a metabolic disease that affects the human body’s ability to process glucose. Glucose is sugar that comes from the food you eat, and it’s your body’s main source of fuel.

Diabetes limits your body’s ability to absorb sugar, and high blood sugar levels that accompany this chronic disease can trigger a range of health issues from increased risk of heart disease to nerve damage in your eyes, hands, and feet.

In fact, about 50% of people with diabetes have diabetic nerve damage — and another 10% develop foot ulcers. Diabetic foot problems are common and can be severe. If left untreated, toe or foot amputation could be necessary.

The good news is that regular podiatry care effectively prevents and treats many common diabetic foot problems. Lisa Burson, DPM, Joe Aoun, DPM, and our team at The Foot & Ankle Specialists offers comprehensive diabetic foot care for people of all ages, so you can stay healthy and active.

Common diabetic foot problems

Diabetes is a metabolic condition that comes with health risks like cardiovascular disease and obesity, but did you know it can affect foot health? People with diabetes are more likely to suffer foot problems like loss of sensation, slow-healing wounds, and more that compromise their health and their mobility.

Nerve damage

Diabetes makes your blood sugar levels abnormally high. Over time, high blood sugar gradually damages the blood vessels that connect the nerves throughout your body. The result is decreased sensation and permanent nerve damage, known as diabetic neuropathy.

Nerve damage may start with tingling or a pins-and-needles sensation in your feet, and it can be painful. If it progresses, you may lose feeling in your feet. Nerve function is essential for healthy blood circulation, so people with neuropathy may also experience complications related to poor circulation.

Slow-healing wounds

People with diabetic neuropathy are at risk for slow-healing wounds, particularly on their feet. Lack of sensation means you might not notice a cut or scrape when it happens, and reduced blood flow reduces your body’s ability to heal the wound.

If a wound heals slowly, your risk of infection increases. Wounds that aren’t identified and treated promptly can develop into painful foot ulcers, abscesses, or infections like cellulitis and osteomyelitis. In more severe cases, slow healing wounds can develop gangrene.

Charcot foot

Charcot foot is a diabetes-related foot disease that can develop with severe neuropathy. It’s a dangerous condition that may cause deformity and disability over time.

Charcot foot starts when a combination of nerve damage, trauma, and metabolic abnormalities of bone results in localized inflammation and weakens the bones of your foot. Having fragile bones increases your risk of fracture as you walk. If the bones weaken and fracture, then the joints in your foot dislocate and collapse, and your foot changes shape.

Neuropathy, slow healing wounds, and the complications that come with them can severely affect your foot health and your mobility. If the issues are left untreated, damage may progress so far that you need toe or foot amputation to prevent more complications.

Keeping your feet healthy with diabetic foot care

If you have diabetes, it’s important to get regular checkups with your podiatrist. Dr. Lisa Burson at Dr. Joe Aoun provide a range of foot care services to identify and treat issues affecting the health of your feet.

According to the American Diabetes Association, people with diabetes should have annual foot exams. We examine your feet and ask about any symptoms you’re experiencing. These routine exams allow us to identify wounds and other issues before they create serious health complications.

We specialize in diagnosing diabetic neuropathy, and we use biopsy and other in-office testing to determine the extent of your nerve damage. After reaching a diagnosis, we develop a custom treatment plan to manage your symptoms.

The doctors can recommend lifestyle adjustments to keep feet healthy, such as daily self-exams and diabetic shoe inserts to protect your feet. We also offer nail trimming if cutting your nails is difficult for you.

Managing your diabetes with your primary care doctor or endocrinologist can help reduce your diabetic foot problems, too. We work with you and your health care team to ensure you’re enjoying your best possible health every step of the way.

If you have diabetes, you need a podiatrist you can trust. Find out more about the benefits of regular diabetic foot care with a consultation at The Foot & Ankle Specialists. Contact us online, or call the office for an appointment.

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