Many people associate diabetes with having to track your blood sugar levels and monitor what you eat. While this is correct, there are many more issues to consider, including paying careful attention to your foot health.
Here at Wiregrass Podiatry in Enterprise, Alabama, Dr. Jennifer Decker and our highly trained staff offer state-of-the-art treatment in our warm and friendly office for even your most complex foot and ankle problems. Whether you’re bothered by heel pain, neuropathy, a sports injury or need diabetic foot care, Dr. Decker focuses on prevention and conservative treatments, though she can also perform advanced minimally invasive surgical procedures when necessary.
Diabetes occurs when your body either can’t create insulin or is unable to use it properly, which in turn limits its ability to convert sugars, starches, and other foods into energy. This can lead to elevated blood sugar levels (also known as hyperglycemia) and result in damage to the eyes, kidney, heart, nerves, and feet. A team of specialists is often used to help manage the disease.
Diabetes and foot problems
Diabetes typically causes two types of issues in the feet. One is peripheral vascular disease, in which fatty deposits block blood vessels, mainly in the feet and hands. This results in a reduced blood supply and poor circulation. One symptom is often pain or cramps in the backs of the legs when you’re walking. Reduced blood flow can cause issues like pain, infections, and slow healing of wounds.
Diabetic neuropathy is the second foot problem associated with diabetes. It occurs due to nerve damage and results in numbness of the feet. As a result, people with diabetic neuropathy may not notice injuries to their feet, such as cuts, sores, blisters or other irritations. These minor concerns can develop into infections, ulcers, and even gangrene if they are not addressed in a timely manner.
Ways to keep your feet healthy
There are a variety of things you can do to keep your feet healthy, including washing them daily, wearing supportive shoes and socks, staying active, and putting them up when sitting to promote blood flow. You should also check them daily for any issues or injuries and strive to keep your blood sugar levels under control.
Role of the podiatrist
Seek medical care if you experience any concerning symptoms, including swelling, changes in skin color or temperature, pain, or tingling sensations. Ingrown nails, as well as persistent sores or infections, should also be checked out.
Regular checkups with a podiatrist annually — or more frequently, depending on your situation — can also help keep your feet in tip-top shape, as it often allows the doctor to catch problems in the early stages.
Complications from diabetes result in over 65,000 lower limb amputations each year, and if you’ve had one limb amputated, your risk of having another within 3 to 5 years is as high as 50%. The good news is, including a podiatrist on your care team can reduce your risk of lower limb amputation by 85% and decrease your risk of being hospitalized by 24%.
If you have diabetes, call our office or book an appointment today to keep your feet as healthy as possible.