The American Association of Diabetes Educators reports that there were about 30.3 million Americans living with diabetes by the end of 2017. With so many Americans living with diabetes, the care and attention that must be paid to a healthy lifestyle and functional body are critical. Diet and exercise are huge components for a diabetic’s overall health, but the feet are particularly susceptible to problems. Recognizing the signs that there are issues with your feet can prevent complications in the future and ensure you lead a long and healthy life.
But what are these signs you should be looking for? How does one differentiate between diabetic complications in their feet and normal aches and pains? When should you visit a foot and ankle specialist? Let’s take the time to review three of the key symptoms diabetics should make themselves aware of and schedule that appointment with a foot and ankle specialist.
Sores on the Feet That Don’t Heal Quickly
Because of the damage caused to nerves by diabetes, feet often become a sign that something is wrong. Foot pain, although common among all kinds of people, must be paid careful attention. If a diabetic identifies sores or cuts on their feet that seem to take forever to heal up, make an appointment with a podiatrist. The sluggish blood flow to their feet means that ulcers and gangrene could potentially develop if these sores don’t heal, and the cures for gangrene are limited. A cut could also become infected if left untreated and become a significantly larger nuisance later on.
It’s possible that you begin to notice swelling in your legs, ankles, or both. Again, some people experience this during various times of their lives or in certain types of weather, but for those with diabetes, this could be a sign of the disease running rampant. To distinguish if this is a sign of diabetes or a normal occurrence, speak with your doctor and see a foot doctor as well. A foot and ankle specialist will be able to identify the causes of this swelling, especially if it seems to be unexplained, and offer some comfort solutions for the short term and help you attain swell-free legs and ankles for the long term.
Tingling or Numbness
Uncontrolled diabetes can damage the nerves in the legs and feet, leaving diabetics with either a heightened sensitivity to touch, or a lack of any sensation. While these symptoms may seem fairly harmless, it’s the long-term effects they can have that are concerning. Diabetic neuropathy can increase sensitivity to the point that even the lightest touch against legs or feet can be painful. On the opposite of the spectrum, if a person’s legs or feet are numb and lack any capacity to feel sensation, they’re at risk of attaining injuries that go unnoticed for too long.
A foot and ankle specialist can become a lifesaver for a diabetic. Properly identifying symptoms of diabetic complications in the feet can mean the difference between a healthy life and an uncomfortable one.