Diabetes is a lifelong chronic disease that is caused by high levels of sugar in the blood. It can also decrease your body's ability to fight off infections, which is especially harmful in your feet. When diabetes is not properly controlled, damage can occur to the organs and impairment of the immune system is also likely to occur. With damage to your nervous system, you may not be able to feel your feet properly. Normal sweat secretion and oil production that lubricates the skin of the foot is impaired, which can lead to an abnormal pressure on the skin, bones, and joints of the foot during walking and other activities.you may also be unable to sense the position of your feet and toes while walking and balancing, This can even lead to the breakdown of the skin of the foot, which often causes sores to develop. Also, damage to your nerves can cause the loss of feeling in your feet, making it difficult to detect extreme temperatures and pain as easily, or readily, as someone who does not have diabetes. which can cause even more harm to your feet. Normal nerves allow people to sense if their shoes are too tight or if their shoes are rubbing on the feet too much. With diabetes, you may not be able to properly sense minor injuries, such as cuts, scrapes and blisters-all signs of abnormal wear, tear, and foot strain.As a result, you could sustain a serious cut or wound and not even notice your foot is injured until an infection begins.
Many diabetic foot problems can be prevented in some measure with improved blood sugar control and a strengthened immune system. If you have diabetes, it is important to prevent foot problems before they occur, recognize problems early, and seek the right treatment when a problem does happen.
Diabetics are more prone to various foot problems than those without diabetes due to the development of painful nerve damage called peripheral neuropathy. Neuropathy can affect your entire body, but most often the legs and feet are the most prone areas to serious health complications. If you are among one of the millions of people in the United States with diabetes, it is important to visit your podiatrist for regular foot examinations in order to maintain healthy feet and a strong body.
Diabetic Complications and Your Feet
When it comes to your feet, there are several risk factors that can increase your chances of developing foot problems and diabetic infections in the legs and feet. First of all, poorly fitting shoes are one of the biggest culprits of diabetic foot complications. If you have red spots, sore spots, blisters, corns, calluses, or consistent pain associated with wearing shoes, new proper fitted shoes must be obtained immediately. Additionally, if you have common foot abnormalities such as flat feet, bunions, or hammertoes, prescription shoes or orthotics from your podiatrist may be necessary to further protect your
feet from other damage. The following can also compromise the health of your feet:
Trauma to the foot
Examine your Feet Daily
Careful inspection of your feet on a regular basis is one of the easiest, least expensive and most effective measures for preventing foot complications. By examining your feet daily, and after every injury, you are taking a crucial step to preventing serious foot problems. Noticeable changes, such as temperature, skin color, pain, or swelling may be warning signs for poor circulation or loss of sensation that could potentially lead to something more serious.
Annual examinations by your podiatrist are also vital for anyone with diabetes. A podiatrist can provide a more thorough exam and detect any signs of changes, such as broken skin or ulcers that can be detrimental to the health of your feet and body. Your podiatrist can also check for areas of high pressure or loss of blood circulation.
Clean Your Feet
With diabetes, it is important to keep your feet clean. Wash your feet daily with warm water and mild soap. After washing, make sure you dry your feet thoroughly, especially in-between the toes. You may also apply non-irritating moisturizer to prevent cracks and to keep your feet smooth. Be sure to also avoid ingrown toenails, which can get infected, by keeping them trimmed neatly. If you are unable to cut your toenails safely, ask your podiatrist for professional assistance. And never attempt to cut your own bunions or corns as this can lead to infection, as well. Instead, remember to visit your podiatrist for safe and pain free removal.
To further protect your feet from harm, be sure to:
Avoid smoking, as it reduces blood flow to your feet
Buy comfortable shoes that are not too tight or too loose
Wear clean, dry socks and change them everyday
Never walk barefoot in order to protect your feet from harmful objects
Podiatrists are often the first to diagnose lower extremity circulatory problems that may be caused by diabetes and their expertise is critical in the fight against amputations in diabetic patients. The increase in diabetes will surely mean an increase in lower limb amputations related to the disease, and care by podiatrists in patients with diabetes can potentially result in significant direct health care coast savings.
Preventative care by podiatrists prior to the first evidence of foot ulcers in patients with diabetes prevents or delays lower extremity amputations and hospitalizations. Preventative care by today's podiatrists can not only save limbs and lives, it can bring significant savings to the economy. Studies have shown that effective diabetic foot ulcer and amputation prevention could save the US health-care system up to $21.8 billion annually.
Your podiatrist plays a critical role in the prevention and management of complications of the foot in diabetics. Diabetes is serious and can be extremely dangerous to your feet, so take precautions now. You can avoid serious problems such as losing a toe, foot, or leg by following proper prevention techniques offered by your podiatrist. Remember, prevention is the key to saving your feet and eliminating pain. Talk to your podiatrist today to see what you can do now to keep your feet safe, strong, and healthy.
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