Diabetes and Foot Problems
Foot problems are common in people with diabetes. You might be afraid you’ll lose a toe, foot, or leg to diabetes, or know someone who has, but you'll lower your chances of getting diabetes-related foot problems by taking care of your feet every day. Managing your blood sugar levels, also called blood glucose, also can help keep your feet healthy.
How can diabetes affect my feet?
Over time, diabetes may cause nerve damage, also called diabetic neuropathy, that can cause tingling and pain, and can make you lose feeling in your feet. When you lose feeling in your feet, you'll not feel a pebble inside your sock or a blister on your foot, which may cause cuts and sores. Cuts and sores can become infected.
Diabetes can also lower the quantity of blood flow in your feet. Not having enough blood flowing to your legs and feet can make it hard for a sore or an infection to heal. Sometimes, a bad infection never heals. The infection might lead to gangrene.
Gangrene and foot ulcers that do not get better with treatment can lead to an amputation of your toe, foot, or part of your leg. A surgeon may perform an amputation to prevent a bad infection from spreading to the rest of your body, and to save your life. Good foot care is extremely important to stop serious infections and gangrene.
Although rare, nerve damage from diabetes can cause changes within the shape of your feet, like Charcot’s foot. Charcot’s foot may start with redness, warmth, and swelling. Later, bones in your feet and toes can shift or break, which may cause your feet to possess an odd shape, like a “rocker bottom.”
What can I do to keep my feet healthy?
Work with your health care team to make a diabetes self-care plan, which is an action plan for how you will manage your diabetes. Your plan should include foot care. A foot doctor, also called a podiatrist, and other specialists may be part of your health care team.
Check your feet every day
You may have foot problems, but feel no pain in your feet. Checking your feet every day will assist you spot problems early before they worsen . A good way to remember is to check your feet each evening when you take off your shoes. Also check between your toes. If you have trouble bending over to see your feet, try using a mirror to see them, or ask someone else to look at your feet.
Look for problems such as
Ø cuts, sores, or red spots
Ø swelling or fluid-filled blisters
Ø ingrown toenails, in which the edge of your nail grows into your skin
Ø corns or calluses, which are spots of rough skin caused by too much rubbing or pressure on the same spot
Ø plantar warts, which are flesh-colored growths on the bottom of the feet
Ø athlete’s foot
Ø warm spots
When should I see my health care provider about foot problems?
Call your health care provider right away if you have
Ø A cut, blister, or bruise on your foot that does not start to heal after a few days
Ø skin on your foot that becomes red, warm, or painful—signs of a possible infection
Ø A callus with dried blood inside of it, which often can be the first sign of a wound under the callus
Ø A foot infection that becomes black and smelly—signs you might have gangrene
Protect your feet from hot and cold
If you have nerve damage from diabetes, you may burn your feet and not know you did. Take the following steps to protect your feet from heat:
Ø Wear shoes at the beach and on hot pavement
Ø Put sunscreen on the tops of your feet to prevent sunburn.
Ø Keep your feet away from heaters and open fires.Do
Ø hot water bottle or heating pad on your feet.
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