Diabetes and Foot Problems

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Diabetes is a very common condition that affects millions of people. With diabetes, problems with the body can arise. Feet suffer many problems due to diabetes. Diabetic neuropathy, which is nerve damage, causes lower blood flow to the feet. Symptoms of diabetic neuropathy include tingling or pain and loss of feeling in the legs or feet {National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, January 2017 (NIH)}.

The muscles of the feet may be damaged and cease to function properly due to diabetic neuropathy. This could cause a diabetic to place too much pressure on one side of the foot, therefore increasing the tendency of ulcer formation (Webb MD). The lack of blood flow (peripheral vascular disease or PVD) also leads to the development of ulcers or infections. Healing takes longer and worse infections, such as gangrene, could set in if treatment is not sought. In rare cases, diabetics could develop changes in the shape of their feet, known as Charcot’s foot, from shifting and cracking of the bones or tarsals and metatarsals (NIH, January 2017).

Proper foot care is crucial for preventing problems:

  1. Daily washing with warm water and mild soap. No soaking feet in water. Keeping the feet dry using corn starch or talcum powder is very important for preventing infections

(NIH, Jan 2017).

  1. Trimming toenails in a straight line only, not on the sides next to the skin. This could cause ingrown nails (NIH, Jan 2017).

III. Wearing socks with and without shoes, even while in the house. This decreases bacterial infections due to stepping on something (NIH, Jan 2017).

  1. Protect the feet from extreme weather conditions: in hot temps, use sunscreen to protect exposed skin and wear athletic shoes that breathe to reduce sweating; in cold temps, wear socks in bed to keep feet warm and wear lined, waterproof boots that will keep the feet warm and dry (NIH, Jan 2017).
  1. Elevate lower extremities while sitting or lying down. This increases blood flow to the feet and toes (NIH, Jan 2017).

Engaging in activities that are easy on the feet helps to reduce pressure, which can con-tribute to blood flow problems in particular areas of the feet. Smoking leads to decreased circulation to the feet. Smokers should consider methods to help with cessation of smoking.

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Annual foot exams are crucial for preventing further problems. A podiatrist should thoroughly examine the feet for swelling, skin color, circulation and presence of sores or ulcers.

Diabetes Shoes should be professionally fitted by a Certified Pedorthist, preferably as part of a comprehensive Foot Care Program.

Webb MD suggests that diabetics wear canvas or leather shoes lined with cushioned pads or insoles. New shoes should only be broken in for a few hours and then removed. Feet should be checked for any signs of abnormality. Socks must be worn with shoes at all times. Shoes should be closed-toed only and be roomy in the toe area and wide enough to prevent friction against the skin. Too much friction can lead to the formation of blisters. Sandals are discouraged to be worn anytime.

Any blisters that are swollen or purulent should be seen immediately by a podiatrist. Diabetics should also look for any ingrown toenails, corns or calluses that can’t be removed, warts, cuts and sores, signs of athlete’s foot, or red and warm spots on the feet. Cracks in the skin should be should be moisturized and feet covered. Any abnormal signs should also be examined by the podiatrist (NIH, Jan 2017).

It is important for diabetics to remember that diet plays an important role in healing. A high protein diet will help with the healing process. However, a diabetic should consult with a dietician before starting any new diet to make sure it is balanced enough to keep blood sugar levels within doctor-approved levels.

*The author of this blog is not a medical professional and this article does not contain professional medical advice. This blog is not intended to substitute for medical advice, treatment, or diagnosis. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of the contents of this article. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call 911 immediately.

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*The author of this blog is not a medical professional and this article does not contain professional medical advice. This blog is not intended to substitute for medical advice, treatment, or diagnosis. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of the contents of this article. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call 911 immediately.

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