Diabetic Foot Care
How does diabetes affect my feet?
Unfortunately, diabetes is an epidemic in the United States, currently affecting over 30 million Americans! It is a leading cause of amputation, blindness, and kidney disease. With regards to the feet it can have disastrous consequences for two reasons.
Firstly, having elevated blood glucose over long periods of time can cause irreversible nerve damage in the feet and sometimes hands. This is called peripheral neuropathy. It can lead to tingling, burning pain, or even complete loss of feeling in the feet(numbness). When sensation is absent in the feet, something as simple as a poor fitting shoe or a pebble inside a shoe can result in a blister which can then become a wound, also called an ulcer(see our section on wound/ulcer care for more details on this). This acts as a portal of entry for bacteria which can then lead to infection. About 15% of diabetics will end up with a foot ulcer, many of which are preventable.
Secondly, diabetes can lead to blockage of the arteries that carry blood to the feet, heart, brain and elsewhere. In the feet and legs this lack of oxygen and nutrients to the tissues can cause muscle cramping (claudication), wounds that do not heal, and even gangrene. Smoking can have similar effects on the circulation so it is vitally important that you do not smoke if you are diabetic.
“I am a Type II Diabetic…I had a sore once again on my large toe and since all my weight was on that toe as I walked, it never healed after many months. It was amazing, but he made a small incision and cut the tendon on my toe. Without any pressure on it, it was healed in 48 hours.
I feel very good seeing him (Dr. Davis) every 10 weeks to check on my nails and calluses, and any other blisters or sores that come up. He follows very closely due to the danger of unhealed sores. I am lucky that normal sores heal well for me. My insurance pays for this with a small co-pay and I feel better knowing he is checking on me on a scheduled timetable.
I was very lucky to have met Dr. Davis and have become friends with him over the years. He takes very good care of my feet. I have recommended him to many people who asked me who I see after I tell them about the good care I receive.”
Symptoms of diabetes in your feet may include:
- Numbness, complete or partial lack of feeling usually starting in the toes and progressing up the feet
- A sensation of leather on the bottom of the feet or that something is wrapped around the feet
- Burning or tingling sensations, often more severe at night
- Wounds that do not heal or heal very slowly
- Cramping or weakness of the muscles in the feet in legs. This may require regular periods of rest when walking a distance or hanging the feet off the side of the bed at night.
Treatment for diabetic foot conditions:
- Prevention is the best medicine of all! Carefully controlling your blood sugars with proper diet, exercise, and medication can help minimize diabetic neuropathy, circulation problems and all the other long-term effects of diabetes. In regards to the feet, it is recommended that all diabetics avoid walking barefoot. Even inside the house it is safest to wear a slipper or other shoe with a hard sole that protects the feet from broken glass, splinters, toothpicks, insulin needles, etc… Examine your feet daily when you remove your shoes for possible areas of irritation or injury. If your vision is poor, have someone else examine your feet. What you see is often more important than what you feel! Use a mirror if needed to see the bottoms of your feet.
- Consult your podiatrist if you notice any redness, swelling, bruising, blistering, ingrown nails, corns, calluses, sores, drainage or other irregularities as these may require urgent attention. Give us a call to set up an appointment as we can usually get you in quickly for evaluation.
- Also, if you have deformities such as bunions or hammertoes you are at increased risk of developing complications. Some diabetics require special shoes and soft foam inserts to help lessen the risk. This is sometimes a covered benefit through Medicare and other commercial insurances. Breaking new shoes in gradually is very important for diabetics with neuropathy.
- For those diabetics that are at high risk, regular callus and nailcare from your podiatrist may be needed. Pedicures are not recommended for most diabetics.
- Treatment is available for painful cases of neuropathy. There are topical medications as well as oral medicines such as gabapentin and Lyrica that may lessen the discomfort.
- The American Diabetic Association recommends annual foot check-ups for all persons with diabetes. Your doctor can assess your risk for future problems and help you avoid them. Preventing foot problems before they start is essential. Visit diabetes.org for more info.
Diabetic Foot Care Specialist
Judd Davis, DPM with A New Step Foot & Ankle Clinics is a compassionate podiatrist (foot and ankle doctor) who helps diabetic patients with treatment of toe, foot, or ankle conditions. It’s especially important for patients with diabetes to pay close attention to even small foot injuries which could result in serious consequences. A New Step Foot & Ankle Clinics is located in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Diabetic Foot Care – Ankle and Foot Podiatrist
Judd Davis, DPM with A New Step Foot & Ankle Clinics is a compassionate podiatrist (foot and ankle doctor) who helps patients with surgical and non-surgical treatment of Diabetic Foot Care and other foot or ankle problems. A New Step Foot & Ankle Clinics is located in Colorado Springs, Colorado.