diabetic foot wrapped in bandagesApproximately three-quarters of all diabetic-related amputations are preceded by chronic diabetic foot ulcers. Preventing or treating chronic diabetic foot ulcers can lead to a good chance of avoiding loss of your toes, foot or leg.

Causes & Effects of Diabetic Neuropathy

Your feet need extra careful attention when you have diabetes because the disease puts you at a higher risk for getting foot infections or ulcers. This is due to high blood glucose levels, which can result in poor circulation, which slows the healing process. In addition, the high blood glucose levels can keep the white blood cells from effectively fighting off infections.

Many people with diabetes develop neuropathy or nerve damage in their feet. When the nerves are damaged, you lose feeling in your feet and the ability to know when you have a sore, blister or injury. When you do not feel the pain, you are less likely to treat the problem, possibly causing serious complications. If you leave a wound untreated, you are allowing it to become infected and an infection can become serious enough to require amputation. It is important to detect problems as early as possible. The Center for Disease Control recommends that people with diabetes have their feet examined at least four times per year.

Tips for Diabetic Foot Care

  • Examine your feet daily for sores, cuts, reddened or swollen areas or infections around your toenails.
  • Keep feet clean with warm water and mild soap. Dry well with soft towel.
  • Moisturize tops and bottoms of feet. Keep area between toes dry.
  • To treat corns and calluses, use a pumice stone after a bath to smooth roughened areas. Have a podiatrist treat corns and calluses to be safe.
  • Keep toenails trimmed– do not cut into corners, which can lead to infection.
  • Never go barefoot, and check inside of shoes and socks for objects.
  • Choose shoes with support, allowing air to circulate around your feet.

Stay Active if You Have Diabetes

As diabetes is a chronic illness that can result in poor circulation, it is imperative for the diabetic to engage in physical activity. In South Florida, the climate allows for many outdoor activities such as walking, dancing, swimming or bicycling. These are good exercises to participate in and are easy on the feet. Maintaining good blood glucose control promotes good circulation as well.

It is also important to keep your blood flowing as the loss of blood can starve and destroy soft tissue in the feet. Sitting for long stretches at a time can restrict the flow of blood to the legs and feet. When sitting, you should keep your feet raised and, once in a while, wiggle your toes, rotate your ankles and stretch your feet to get the blood moving. Crossing legs can also restrict the flow of blood. Data from a study completed from the World Health Organization and Center of Disease Control and Prevention suggests that by reducing the time one sits by 90 minutes daily, the risk of diabetic foot problems can be reduced significantly.

Diabetic Foot Treatment

Treatment for diabetic neuropathy includes prescription foot orthotics, Anodyne Therapy or a revolutionary procedure called peripheral nerve decompression surgery. The latter can relieve pain or loss of sensation in the leg, ankle and foot in up to 80% of patients, according to The Dellon Institutes for Peripheral Nerve Surgery. Dr. Cutler of South Florida Foot & Ankle Centers is experienced in peripheral nerve decompression surgery.

As diabetes and limb amputations are serious matters, one should consult with a qualified foot and ankle specialist. With locations in Royal Palm Beach, West Palm Beach, Lake Worth, Belle Glade, Palm Beach Gardens and Port St. Lucie, South Florida Foot & Ankle Centers’ foot doctors are available for a professional consultation on treatment options for diabetic feet. Click here to schedule an appointment with one of our podiatrists or call 561-793-6170.

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