The stark truth of living with diabetes is that a diagnosis places significant influences on your life moving forward. Among the changes and requests diabetes demands in your life, diabetic foot care should absolutely be one of them.
The primary goal of diabetic care as a whole should be in managing the condition in a way that prevents or greatly lowers the risks of complications occurring in the future. It is preventative care; an investment in your health now to pave the way toward a healthier and much more comfortable tomorrow.
While Family Foot & Ankle Center is committed to helping the immediate and direct needs of diabetic patients if and when they happen, we would much rather help our patients avoid those problems as much as possible. That’s why diabetic foot care is a protocol you should begin to develop now and make a daily habit.
Why Are Feet a Concern with Diabetes?
Diabetes can have negative effects throughout the body, from our eyesight to the function of our kidneys. It may not seem at first blush that our feet are worth much attention in the overall picture, but that is a perception that has had dire consequences for many people.
There are two major ways in which diabetes can endanger our foot health.
First, diabetes can negatively affect circulation throughout the body—and the feet are often the first to feel the effects of this.
Our feet are the farthest parts of us from our hearts, meaning there is already more of a physical challenge for our bodies to pump blood to this region than just about anywhere else. Once circulation starts to become slowed or blocked, that only makes the situation worse for our feet.
What a reduction of circulation can mean is a reduction in the capability of our feet to heal from injury effectively. Our cells need nutrients and healing factors from our blood to perform repairs. A reduction in circulation is kind of like disrupting the flow of materials to a construction site.
As circulation to the feet worsens, even a small cut or injury can take a long time to heal. In some cases, a full recovery will not happen at all without some form of medical intervention.
Second, the effects of diabetes and slowed circulation can lead to damage in the nerves of the feet. This can lead to pain, tingling, and burning sensations as the transmission of signals over the nerves becomes disrupted. Perhaps worse, though, is when the nerves stop sensing anything at all.
Feet that can’t feel injury and are slow to heal can lead to extremely dangerous situations. Even minor problems or injuries can fail to heal. If they go unnoticed, a patient can continue to walk on and aggravate the injury, leading to it opening and deepening into a diabetic ulcer. Infections and breakdown of foot structure can occur, and sometimes this ends with a need to amputate the limb.
This is the worst outcome, and we don’t want anyone to have to go through it. Fortunately, preventative care is easy to accomplish.
Your Role in Diabetic Foot Care
One of the best things you can do to take care of your feet with diabetes is the same thing you do to take care of the rest of you: manage your condition and blood sugar levels consistently.
However, that is not all you can or should be doing. And one of the important things you can do only takes a little of your time:
Make a habit out of examining your feet every day.
Yes, it is seriously that simple!
Choose a time that is convenient for you to give yourself an examination. We find getting out of the shower or right before hopping into bed are common times for most folks.
Look and even feel over your feet for signs of anything that should not be there. This can include:
- Corns or calluses
- Ingrown toenails
If you have trouble reaching your feet, a hand mirror can help you access places you might not be able to see normally. A selfie stick, believe it or not, can also be an effective tool! A loved one may also be available to help you out.
If you see something, let us know about it. We will not ask you to come in for every little thing you find, unless the circumstances are unique. In many cases, we will simply ask you to keep an eye on things. What’s important is that we have a record of your foot condition, which can provide important information on your overall foot health over time.
Yes, it is vital to have a professional foot specialist in your corner as you manage your condition. One of the most devious aspects of diabetes is how stealthily it can cause someone’s health to degrade, almost like the myth of a frog and a gradually boiling pot of water. The sooner those potential problems are identified and addressed—both by you and us—the lower your risks of developing a potentially life-changing complication.
The Best Diabetic Foot Care Starts Now
It does not matter if your feet currently feel fine; being proactive on your diabetic foot care will never be a waste of your time!
If you have questions about your feet or would like to schedule an appointment with us, we are more than happy to help. Call us at (513) 728-4800 to schedule an appointment at any of our six area offices. If you prefer to reach us electronically, please fill out our online contact form and a member of our staff will respond to you.