One of the many possible consequences of diabetes are problems affecting the feet and legs.
Prolonged periods of increased blood sugar levels in the body can lead to diabetic neuropathy, which damages nerves and in turn can result in the inability to feel sensations in the feet. That means even minor cuts or abrasions may go unnoticed until the feet are visually inspected.
Diabetics also are more likely to develop peripheral artery disease, or PAD, in which reduced levels of oxygen and blood reach the limbs – especially the legs and feet. This means that should you develop a wound or sore on the feet, less oxygenated blood circulating through the area means healing of those injuries takes longer, if healing occurs at all.
Due to these complications, wounds to the feet of diabetic patients may quickly – within days –become infected and eventually lead to tissue death (gangrene). When toe, feet, or legs are amputated in diabetic patients, it is usually in order to prevent the life-threatening spread of gangrene.
Diabetic Foot Care
If you have diabetes, the best way to avoid serious complications is to protect and care for your feet to prevent wounds from occurring in the first place.
You should begin with daily inspection of your feet. Look for any areas of swelling, bruises, cuts, open sores, or even ingrown toenails. Pay attention, if possible, to any areas that may be tender or painful to the touch.
Also, footwear plays an important role here. Make sure to wear shoes that fit you properly and are comfortable. That’s because the friction caused by ill-fitting shoes may not be felt until the skin is worn away and blisters or sores appear. Before wearing your shoes, check for anything that may irritate your feet, such as cracks in the material, pebbles, or other debris that may have fallen inside the shoe.
Cleanse your feet with mild antibacterial soap and lukewarm water – never hot water! Dry your feet thoroughly with a soft towel, especially in between the toes. Use nonirritating types of moisturizer on your feet.
Keep your toenails trimmed and be very careful when doing so. Toenails should be cut straight across, rather than with curved corners that can lead to ingrown toenails.
If you notice a wound on your feet, treat it immediately if possible, before it becomes infected. This usually involves cleaning the area, applying antibiotic ointment and covering the wound with a dry dressing or bandage. Always follow-up with your podiatrist, who may need to further treat the wound, depending on its size, location, or severity, or prescribe antibiotics if an infection is present.
Podiatrist in St. Louis
You can reduce the likelihood of many potential diabetic foot problems with these daily preventive techniques and by properly managing your diabetes. A healthy lifestyle consisting of a proper diet, exercise, careful monitoring of blood sugar, and religiously taking your medication is the key to helping to prevent long-term damage to vital organs as a result of diabetes.
Should you notice an infection or wounds on your feet – especially if you have diabetes – seek professional help immediately. Contact podiatrist Anthony M. Lombardo or any of the orthopedic specialists at Advanced Bone & Joint now by calling (636) 224-4192 or use the online form to request an appointment. Our foot and ankle specialists are always ready, willing, and able to assist you.