Why You Need an Orthopedist for Diabetic Foot Care

Why You Need an Orthopedist for Diabetic Foot Care

by Alex Hirsch (SU)

Living with diabetes means taking extra care of your health. It means you have to watch what you eat, exercise regularly, and take your medications. Smoking, sugary foods, and inactivity should be avoided.

In addition, there is one thing that diabetics also have to deal with, and it has to do with their feet. One of the most common reasons for hospitalization among diabetics is foot problems. If left untended or self-treated, these problems could lead to complications such as neuropathy (nerve damage) and atherosclerosis (poor circulation). 

Diabetic foot care is as important as making dietary and lifestyle changes if you are diabetic. Done correctly, it can save you from infection or worse. An experienced orthopedic physician can help guide you through how to maintain your body – especially your feet – for optimum performance even with diabetes.

Foot Care for Diabetics

Your diabetes impacts the blood vessels and nerves of your feet – so much so, that minor foot problems can lead to major emergencies. Be on the lookout for ulcers on your feet, because an ulcer can easily get infected; and the infection can spread to your other organs. In the worst-case scenario, you would need to have your foot amputated in order to save your life.

That’s a harrowing thought, but the good news is that there are steps you can take to avoid such complications. By investing in diabetic foot care, you can prevent foot issues such as foot ulcers, dryness, infection, and amputation. 

As a diabetic, you should check and monitor the condition of your feet every day. One of the best things you can do to preserve your lower limbs is to consult an orthopedist for diabetic foot care. Your orthopedist can also educate you on the various conditions that can be expected with diabetes.

Neuropathy 

This refers to nerve damage. The symptoms of diabetic neuropathy include feelings of weakness, pain, burning, tingling, stinging, and loss of sensation. If you have neuropathy in your feet, you might not notice that you have already sustained an injury to your feet.

Without awareness of an injury, you are leaving yourself vulnerable to infection. Infection leads to the development of foot ulcers, which do not heal. Nerve damage also leaves your skin dry and cracked, because the affected nerves do not foster sweating – and cracked skin leaves you vulnerable to infection.

Atherosclerosis 

Another thing that diabetics have to deal with is atherosclerosis, or poor circulation. Without proper circulation, the body is unable to heal properly and fight infection. 

In atherosclerosis, the blood vessels in the foot and leg harden, impeding blood flow. Your feet will feel cold, and you run the risk of accidentally burning yourself in your effort to warm your feet.

Thickening of Skin 

The areas of your foot that are under more pressure will easily develop calluses and corns. These need to be trimmed in order to avoid excessive thickness and the development of foot ulcers.

Foot Ulcers

Foot ulcers usually appear on the ball and heel of the foot. You might not feel any pain, which means you might neglect to treat them – which means they could get infected.

If you do find an ulcer, contact your orthopedist for immediate attention and care. The longer you wait, the higher your chances of your foot getting infected or worse.

Your orthopedist can treat your ulcers, clean your feet, and slough-off dead skin. You might need X-rays (to rule out the spread of infection) and antibiotics to ensure it does not progress to a worse condition.

Special Diabetic Footwear

Diabetics are advised not to stand too long on their feet in order to relieve pressure on the lower extremities. There are shoes for diabetics as well as orthotics that not only protect your feet but also allow any sores to heal.

Amputation

If an infection (such as from an ulcer) cannot be stopped from spreading to other organs, amputation is necessary. When nerve damage is irreparable, it could lead to the amputation of your toes, feet, or lower legs.

You can help prevent the need for amputation with the guidance of a skilled orthopedic surgeon.

Orthopedic Physicians in St. Louis 

Our board-certified orthopedic doctors at Advanced Bone & Joint can treat diabetic foot issues of all kinds, and we can help you avoid amputation. We provide comprehensive orthopedic care in St. Peters and O’Fallon, Missouri. Schedule an appointment today.