Diabetic Foot Problems
Patients with diabetes should have regular visits with one of our board-certified physicians at American Foot & Leg Specialists to avoid diabetic foot problems. Diabetes patients must constantly monitor their blood glucose level, as well as examine their feet daily in order to prevent infections that can lead to open wounds or even amputation. In the feet and lower legs, diabetes can cause poor circulation through hardening of the arteries, and nerve problems that affect a patients’ ability to feel correctly.
Without consistent observation, diabetic feet may not heal properly from minor injuries or poorly fitting shoes which cause constant rubbing. Other foot abnormalities such as hammertoe, athlete’s foot, or even ingrown toenails, should be treated as serious issues.
Symptoms in the feet and lower legs like persistent pain, swelling, hard shiny skin, pus, red streaking, new or lasting numbness, minor trauma, or a new blister/ulcer/wound, need to be addressed immediately by one of our board-certified podiatry specialists.
Complications from Diabetic Foot Problems
The two most common complications that lead to foot infections in diabetics are:
Diabetic Neuropathy: which occurs as a result of uncontrolled diabetes, and results in the loss of feeling in the feet. The loss of feeling becomes particularly problematic when a blister, cut, ulcer, or similar complication develops on the foot, and a patient cannot detect the complication. The blister, cut, ulcer, or other complication can then go undetected for some time and become infected before it is properly addressed.
Peripheral Artery Disease: which leads to reduced blood flow to the feet. Peripheral refers to the extremities away from the heart. Poor blood circulation to an injury or irritation of the foot can make it difficult for even the smallest cut or sore to heal, leading to infection or other serious complications.
Diabetic Foot Amputations
Diabetes is the single greatest cause of non-traumatic leg amputations. The risk of leg and foot amputations significantly increases for those who have diabetes compared to those who do not. Furthermore, evidence suggests that around 80% of these amputations can be avoided with early detection and proper foot care. Due to neuropathy and the associated lack of feeling, early detection can be difficult. Combining the lack of feeling associated with neuropathy and the lack of blood flow with peripheral artery disease, undetected and slow healing infections can result in amputation of a toe, foot, or entire leg.
In light of the serious nature of such foot complications, it is important to maintain proper foot care and see our physicians at American Foot & Leg Specialists routinely if you have diabetes.
Treatment for Diabetic Foot Complications
Exercise is often recommended as a way of improving circulation throughout the body, including the feet and legs, though one should consult one of our physicians before starting any exercise regimen. Remember, most diabetic complications are avoidable with effective foot care. This includes wearing properly fitted shoes, not walking/running barefoot, performing regular self-examinations of the feet, wearing stockings that improve blood circulation, and other similar forms of care.
Dos and Don’ts for Diabetic Foot Care
Diabetic patients should check their feet every day to avoid diabetic foot problems. Our team of physicians have provided some helpful foot care tips below for preventing complications:
- buy shoes early in the day.
- buy shoes that need to be broken in.
- wear the same shoes every day.
- wear sandals or thong flip-flops.
- wear socks or stockings with a tight elastic band.
- wear support hose with seams or garters.
- treat corns and calluses yourself.
- walk barefoot.
- smoke and further decrease your blood flow.
- use strong chemicals or antiseptic solutions such as iodine or salicylic acid on your feet.
- use heating pads, electric blankets, or hot water bottles on your feet.
- use tape or other sticky materials on your feet.
- trim your toenails in a curved fashion.
- soak your feet without asking one of our physicians.
- get your feet wet in the rain or snow.
- use lotion, petroleum jelly, lanolin, or oil on in between your toes.
- sit with your legs crossed for a long period of time.
- stand in one position for a long period of time.
- gently wash your feet every day with gentle soap.
- dry your feet after bathing.
- use lotion, petroleum jelly, lanolin, or oil on the top and bottom of your foot.
- rotate your shoes.
- examine your feet every day for any common diabetic foot symptoms listed above.
- request shoes with deep toe boxes with leather upper materials.
- protect your foot from hot and cold.
- examine your shoes for any foreign objects or spots that could rub your feet consistently.
- wear clean, dry socks or non binding pantyhose.
- wear natural fiber socks such as cotton, wool, or cotton-wool blend.
- wear warm socks and protective footwear in the winter.
- prop your feet up when seated as often as you can.
You should contact our office immediately if your circulation is impaired, or if you have any minor or major injury to your foot.
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American Foot and Leg Specialists draws patients from all over the Atlanta area. Our 4 locations in Stockbridge, Forest Park, Fayetteville, and Locust Grove, are just short drive from Midtown, Buckhead, East Point, College Park, Riverdale, Jonesboro, Irondale, McDonough, and Peachtree City. Schedule a consultation today to eliminate your foot and ankle problems.