By the time a person reaches 50, they will have on average traveled 75,000 miles on their feet. This is excluding those of us who are athletes or simply enjoy taking the scenic route on foot. So, no wonder so many of us complain about aching feet!
Whether it’s bunions or ingrown toenails, or something more chronic, like plantar fasciitis or Morton’s toe, we all work to manage our foot conditions. It’s a different story for those who are diabetic. That’s because those who are diagnosed with diabetes, a disease that affects the way the body processes blood sugar (glucose), are often slow to heal, and even the seemingly smallest of problems – particularly blisters, foot wounds, and ulcers – can lead to serious complications that are fueled by nerve damage, or diabetic neuropathy. In short, when the nerves in a diabetic’s foot are compromised, the brain rarely gets the message. By the time the damage or injury to the foot is discovered, it may already have manifested into something worse. Bottom line, a diabetic can injure or damage his foot and not know it. Nerve damage and poor blood flow add insult to injury and can even lead to changes in the shape of your feet and toes.
Here are five things you should know if you have diabetic foot disease.
1. Diabetes can lead to foot amputation
People with diabetes can develop peripheral artery disease (PAD), a condition that reduces the blood flowing from the heart to the feet that leads to nerve damage and loss of sensation. If complications are not addressed immediately, it can lead to amputation as a last resort.
2. Supportive, properly fitted footwear is essential
Wearing supportive shoes is the most important rule to know if you have diabetes or diabetic foot disease. Comfort over style, in this case, is the way to go, as close-toed shoes will help protect your feet from damage, injury (such as blisters and stubbed toes) and infection. Do not leave your feet exposed, and if barefoot, wear some sort of protective covering such as socks or slippers to avoid cuts, bruises, bacteria and fungus and ingrown toenails.
3. Don’t smoke
If you are a smoker, stop. Smoking impacts the small blood vessels and decreases the blood flow going to your feet making potential wounds and damage slower to heal.
4. Keep your feet moving
Always ensure the blood in your feet is flowing properly. Wiggle your toes and move your feet whenever you can. When resting, keep your feet elevated above your heart to keep the blood circulating so your feet don’t go numb.
5. Take care of your feet
Inspect your feet every day. Report anything suspicious to your doctor. Be on the lookout for redness, swelling, dry or cracked skin, ingrown toenails, and calluses. This can avoid severe long-term complications and keep your feet running smoothly.
There is good news for those with diabetic foot disease. Staying vigilant and working with expert medical professionals can help you reduce the risk of disease or amputation. If you or a loved one is diabetic, the doctors at Advanced Bone & Joint can help with expert wound care for any diabetes-related foot ulcer. Call (636) 229-4222 or visit us today at our offices in St. Peters and O’Fallon, or request an appointment using our secure online form