Many people aren’t aware that diabetics have a much greater risk of developing troublesome foot problems. But at least half of all diabetics have life-changing foot pain, and an additional 10% get problematic foot ulcers, which can lead to amputation.
By understanding the link between diabetes and foot problems, you can take steps to prevent complications before they start. At MidJersey Orthopaedics, our podiatric experts are committed to providing patients in Flemington, Bridgewater, and Washington, New Jersey, with the best diabetic foot care possible — including providing patient education and recommending preventive measures.
Take a moment to learn how diabetes can impact your feet and the steps you can take to keep your extremities healthy.
How are diabetes and foot problems related?
Chronic high blood sugar levels can damage your nerves and circulatory system. This can be especially true for the nerve ending in your feet. Diabetics have more glucose circulating through their bodies, creating a higher risk for developing foot problems.
When you have nerve damage in your feet, you can develop conditions like neuropathy and peripheral vascular disease. Unfortunately, once you develop these conditions, your risk for developing even more serious foot problems increases.
Here’s a closer look at two foot issues diabetics often experience.
Diabetic neuropathy is nerve damage that causes you to lose feeling and sensation in your feet. When this happens, you may not feel any cuts, irritation, or blisters you develop.
As a result, these injuries could get infected. And if left untreated, gangrene could develop, which could put you at risk for amputation.
Peripheral vascular disease
Uncontrolled diabetes can cause damage to your blood vessels and circulatory system. When this happens, you can develop a condition called peripheral vascular disease.
Peripheral vascular disease leads to blockages in the blood vessels. These blockages could then prevent your feet from getting enough blood to stay healthy. As a result, any wounds or injuries your feet experience, such as small cuts or blisters, might not heal quickly and could become infected.
Can I avoid diabetic foot problems?
While having diabetes increases your risk of developing foot problems, there are steps you can take to keep your feet healthy.
The most important thing you can do to keep your feet healthy is to keep your blood sugar under control. Studies show that diabetics who keep their blood sugar levels managed can prevent nerve damage. And for diabetics who have neuropathy, getting blood sugar levels under control can reduce foot pain and help prevent additional damage.
Other steps you can take to avoid developing foot problems include the following:
Get regular exercise
Getting regular exercise can help improve circulation, manage blood sugar, and prevent neuropathy.
Wear diabetes-friendly shoes
If you have diabetes, you should generally avoid wearing open-toed shoes, sandals, high-heeled shoes, and shoes with a narrow toe box. If needed, you can purchase shoes that are specifically made for people with diabetes.
Avoid walking barefoot or in open shoes
Keeping your feet protected can help reduce your risk of getting cuts and wounds.
Practice good foot hygiene
To keep your feet as healthy as possible, look for signs of infection regularly, keep your feet clean, and trim your nails straight across.
Moisturize your feet
Moisturizing your feet regularly can help prevent cracks — which can easily get infected — from developing.
Change socks frequently
Changing your socks regularly can help keep your feet as sweat-free as possible, which can help reduce injury and infection.
Have regular podiatry check-ins
Seeing a podiatrist regularly can help your provider address any foot problems before complications set in.
If you have diabetes and want to learn more about caring for your feet, our team at MidJersey Orthopaedics can help. To learn more, book an appointment online or over the phone today.