Diabetes and Foot Issues
Posted by Jenn F. on Tuesday, April 17th, 2012
Diabetes is bad. It won’t kill you, but it can make your life pretty complicated. Monitoring your blood sugar all the time is one such complication (bodily fluids: they tell all). Monitoring your feet is another. Let’s talk today about some of the potential pitfalls that your feet face when you have diabetes, and how you can manage them.
Wait, now what’s diabetes? Good question! A quick review–insulin is a substance produced by your body that helps manage the use of the food you eat. Type I diabetes is a condition where a person is born without insulin; Type II diabetes is when a person’s body produces insulin ineffectively. When your body isn’t getting the correct amount of insulin, blood sugar levels rise and the body does not get nutrients from the food you eat. Complications ensue from that.
So how does that affect my feet…? Diabetes causes two major types of foot problems.
- Neuropathy This is a loss of sensation in your nerves. This means that if you injure your foot, you may not feel it, and the injury will get worse as it is left untreated. Bones or muscles that do not heal properly can cause walking problems; cuts or sores can become infected. Charcot foot is an example of a condition that can develop from neuropathy.
- Peripheral Vascular Disease This is poor blood flow in your body. When your blood isn’t flowing properly, wounds don’t heal well. Simple cuts run the risk of developing into ulcers or gangrene.
What these basically mean is that anything that can happen to your feet, from simple blisters to a corn or callus, from an ingrown toenail to athlete’s foot, can suddenly become really complicated and dangerous.
I don’t like complicated and dangerous. I like simple and healthy. What should a diabetic do to manage foot problems? Understandable. Here are some things you can do:
- Manage your diabetes. The better control you have of that, the better your chances to avoid really bad foot problems.
- Have an appointment with your regular doctor? Ask him or her to check out your feet while your there.
- Keep regular appointments with a podiatrist at The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine (212.996.1900), probably every two months or so. If you have even the slightest suspicion that something is wrong with your feet, make an appointment.
- Speaking of slightest suspicion, check your feet every day. Carefully monitor anything, even tiny scrapes. See a podiatrist if you notice anything unusual, such as redness, or a change in temperature (area of foot feels too warm or too cool).
- Help avoid scratches, cuts and bumps by always wearing socks or shoes. Stick with closed toe shoes, and avoid sandals or flip flops.
- Make sure your shoes fit. Never wear tight shoes, or shoes that are so loose you can develop blisters.
- Take care of corns and calluses by smoothing them with an emery board or pumice stone. Do this VERY GENTLY. The best time is after you get out of the shower, when your skin is soft. Do not rub hard, or do anything that will tear at the corn or callus.
- Wash your feet thoroughly, the make sure they are absolutely, totally, completely dry before you put on socks or shoes; fungi and infections love warm dark environments, like damp feet inside shoes. Put powder in your shoes or socks to be sure.
- Put lotion on your feet to keep your skin from drying and cracking. Don’t put it between your toes, where it may not dry.
- Keep your nails trimmed, straight across, not curved. This will help prevent ingrown toenails.
- Protect your feet from hot or cold surfaces–don’t walk barefoot on hot sand, don’t wear thin shoes if it’s cold out.
- Keep your blood flowing as much as you can. Move your toes and ankles around, and don’t cross your legs; this impedes blood flow to your feet.
If you have diabetes, the last thing you need is another complication in your life. Taking care of your feet–no, obsessing about your feet!–is the best way to make sure nothing goes wrong with them. Diabetes doesn’t have to stop you from leading a happy life. If you keep your feet in good condition, you’ll be able to do anything, even run! If you have diabetes and need to discuss foot care, or if you have any other foot problems, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine. Dr. Josef J. Geldwert, Dr. Katherine Lai, and Dr. Ryan Minara have helped thousands of people get back on their feet.
If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine. Dr. Josef J. Geldwert, Dr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.