Glucose or sugar is vital to our health and an important source of energy for much of our body and brain function and Diabetes is a group of diseases that affects how our body uses that source of energy. No matter what type of diabetes you have, it affects how your body breaks down that sugar and results in an excess glucose in your blood that can lead to an array of health problems. According to the American Diabetes Association, 1 in 3 Americans are pre-diabetic.
Diabetes can affect many major organs. One of the major complications often associated with diabetes is foot problems.
Diabetic foot complications can arise from one or all of the following underlying causes:
- Peripheral Neuropathy
- Peripheral Vascular disease
- Decreased immunity
For this week, we will focus on Neuropathy and what you can do to manage and prevent conditions that can arise from it.
Neuropathy - occurs when nerves become damaged from long term or uncontrolled diabetes resulting in the way your body detects heat, cold, or pain. An analogy I often use is, "a house without a fire or smoke alarm". Basically, if you aren’t able to sense a cut or detect a sore, it can often worsen and become infected, leading to conditions like cellulitis, abscess formation, or worse, bone infection, resulting in need for complex wound care or surgical intervention, including amputations. Everyday, 230 Americans with diabetes will suffer an amputation (Fakorede, AJMC).
Aside from alerting us to different sensations, nerves also control how muscles function and if these are damaged, this can result in foot deformities such as hammertoes and bunions which can increase pressure to parts of our feet resulting in wound formation.
The end result is a vicious cycle that can greatly impact the health of your feet. But the good news is, there’s much that can be done to reduce these risks.
The American College of Foot and Ankle Surgery provides the following tips:
- Visually Inspect your feet daily for calluses, cuts, and nail problems and call your doctor if you notice any problems
- Wash your feet daily in lukewarm water, never hot! Burn injuries can result if you are not aware of rising water temperature.
- Moisturize your feet, avoiding the spaces between your toes
- Trim your nails carefully and straight across. If they are too thick or ingrown and difficult to trim, make an appointment with your podiatrist
- Never trim corns or calluses yourself and avoid over the counter pads and treatments. Leave these to be evaluated by your podiatrist.
- Inspect your shoes, inside and out before wearing them to prevent potential hidden hazards like splinters, pebbles, frayed edges or seams and other foreign bodies that can puncture your skin.
- Never walk barefooted or even in socks, even at home! Having shoes or slippers can protect your feet from stepping on glass or from scrapes or cuts.
- Most importantly, manage your diabetes and keep your blood sugar under control.
If you have diabetes with or without neuropathy, stay vigilant and seek care at the first sign of problems. Your management team should include your primary care physician or endocrinologist and your podiatrist.
Early treatment can help prevent many diabetic foot infections and complications that can result in amputations.
Bluebonnet Foot and Ankle Institute is here to help if you or your loved ones suffer from the pain of neuropathy or any diabetic foot complications or concerns. Schedule your diabetic foot evaluation today with one of our podiatrists online or call (512) 394-5108.
Increasing Awareness This National Diabetes Month Can Save Limbs and Lives, Dr. Fakorede,AJMC
Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy Foot Health Facts, ACFAS