Diabetes can cause a lot of problems for people. It can affect many different parts of your body and create issues that could have been kept under control if your disease was managed correctly. It can adversely affect your feet in two main ways: peripheral neuropathy and peripheral vascular disease.
How Can Diabetes Affect My Feet?
If you have diabetes your main job is to make sure you keep your disease under control. This means keeping your blood sugar levels in a healthy range, taking medication prescribed to you by a doctor, eating a healthy diet, and engaging in daily exercise. If you don’t you put yourself unnecessarily in harm’s way.
One big danger that can result from uncontrolled diabetes is nerve damage. When your nerves are damaged you may be unable to feel sensation in your feet (also known as “peripheral neuropathy”). This sensation includes pain, heat, cold, and pressure. Being unable to feel these sensations makes you more susceptible to hurting, burning, or crushing your feet without feeling it. This can be very dangerous because a wound in your foot that goes untreated has the ability to turn into a diabetic foot ulcer. If this happens, sometimes it can result in amputation.
Another complication that can affect your feet is peripheral vascular disease. This is really the reason that diabetic foot ulcers occur in the first place. In a normal foot, if you get a cut or scrape then the blood will flow to the area and cause the healing process to take place. With a diabetic foot, the blood flow is more restricted. When there is no blood flow to a wound, there is no healing process, which can ultimately lead to gangrene. Once gangrene has set in there is usually no choice but to amputate the limb.
Diabetic Daily Checklist
Fortunately, there is something you can do about it! Don’t let your feet get to the point where these tough situations occur. Instead, keep your diabetes under control and perform each one of these tasks on the daily diabetic checklist.
- Manage your diabetes. Keep your blood sugar levels at your target level by eating a healthy diet and administering insulin when needed.
- Check your feet every day. Carve out a special time each day when you know you’ll have time to really inspect your feet (after your shower, for example). Look over them very carefully for anything that looks out of the ordinary or worrisome. If you notice any non-healing wounds get to a doctor immediately.
- Be active. Keeping your feet moving will help increase blood flow. Staying physically active will also help you maintain a healthy weight.
- Wash and groom your feet. Keep them clean to avoid fungal infections. Groom them properly by trimming your nails straight across and keeping corns and calluses smoothed.
- Always wear socks and shoes. This will help provide a protective barrier for your feet from a number of dangers.
- Protect them from heat and cold. Remember that it’s not just pain you can’t feel. Extreme temperatures may also damage your feet. Use your hands to test bath water before submerging your feet.
If you follow the above checklist you should be able to stay safe from the dangers that diabetes may present.
We are Proud to Be On Your Team
If you have any more questions or concerns about maintaining diabetic foot health please call Dr. Mitchell Wachtel at (978) 794-8406 to schedule an appointment in one of our three Massachusetts offices. It’s important to have a podiatrist on your medical team and we are proud to offer our services.