A majority of people in the United States – a whopping 75% – will experience foot health problems of varying degrees of severity at one time or another in their lives. However, those with diabetes or prediabetes often have more to worry about when it comes to their foot health. With so many aspects of diabetic health to worry about, from monitoring blood sugar to proper dieting, exercise and more, why is it also very important to care for your feet? Diabetic foot problems are different than standard foot health care for a few distinct reasons.
Diabetes-related Nerve Damage
While people with diabetes can develop nerve damage in any part of their body, diabetic neuropathy in the feet and legs is the most common. This can often result in either chronic foot pain or, worse, a lack of sensation in the feet and toes. While lessened feeling (and thus pain) may at first seem beneficial, it can actually do more harm than good. Pain is your body’s way of signaling that there’s a problem, and not feeling it means you won’t immediately realize if you have a cut or sore on your feet. In addition, extensive nerve damage in the legs and feet can be debilitating and disabling.
Another aspect of diabetic foot care that must be taken into account is poor circulation. Circulatory issues are another common side effect of diabetes and your circulatory system impacts virtually every other aspect of your overall health. Improper circulation can lead to the development of certain types of wounds or injuries, like ulcers, that require podiatry specialists to address when they occur on your feet. Reduced blood flow results in slower healing, and when combined with nerve damage, means injuries can go unnoticed, untreated and develop complications.
Risk of Ulcers and Infection
The combination of the risk of nerve damage and poor circulation puts many people at increased risk of diabetic foot problems, primarily ulcers or other wounds. Ulcers are open sores or lesions that typically form on the bottom of the foot and can extend all the way down to the bone. Because of the nerve damage, these wounds can often go unseen and therefore develop infections. Without care, the infection can spread to the rest of the body; sometimes, the only way to stop the spread of the infection at this point is through amputation. Therefore, it’s critical that people with diabetes be on the lookout for diabetic foot problems.
Proper diabetic foot care is essential to maintaining and promoting the health of those with diabetes, and this often involves more direct podiatry care and expertise than general practitioners may have. To learn more about diabetic foot health care or to schedule an appointment with a podiatrist, contact Dynamic Foot and Ankle today.