Diabetes & Your Feet: Proper Care and Treatment
Foot problems are a major complication associated with diabetes. But they don’t have to happen. Take some time to learn about diabetes and how to avoid foot problems.
What is diabetes?
Diabetes is problem with your body that causes blood glucose (sugar) levels to rise higher than normal. People with diabetes have problems converting food to energy. Food is broken down into glucose and is carried by the blood to cells throughout the body. Insulin is a hormone made in the pancreas and used by the cells to help regulate blood glucose levels. People develop type 2 diabetes because the cells in the muscles, liver, and fat initially are resistant to the effects of insulin and then eventually become insulin deficient. If diabetes is left unchecked, severe damage can occur to your heart, circulatory system, and feet.
Why is foot care important if you have diabetes?
Diabetes can cause you to lose feeling in your feet. When you lose feeling in your feet, you may not feel a pebble inside your sock or a blister on your foot, which can lead to cuts and sores. Diabetes also can lower the amount of blood flow in your feet. Numbness and less blood flow in the feet can lead to foot problems such as foot ulcers that do not heal or even the possibility of losing a toe, foot, or leg. Managing your blood sugar and taking care of your feet every day can help keep your feet healthy.
What are the best ways to care for your feet?
You should work with your healthcare team to make a diabetes plan that matches your lifestyle and includes foot care. Schedule regular foot examinations by a podiatrist or primary care provider. Also do a daily self-inspection of your feet, or get help from a family member. Regular care of your feet, such as cleaning toenails and taking care of calluses is important. You should also wear supportive shoe and socks. You can also improve your circulation by getting regular exercise and eating healthy.
How common are foot problem for people with diabetes?
Nerve problems are common and affect about 70 percent of people with diabetes, regularly affecting the foot and leg. Nerve problems can cause pain or there may be no feeling at all. The legs or feet may feel numb or tingle. This can lead to injuries, wounds that won’t heal, infections, or a limb that may need to be removed. Foot ulcers happen in about 25 percent of people with diabetes.
What is a foot ulcer?
A foot ulcer is an open sore on the foot. It can be a shallow red crater on the skin’s surface or a very deep crater that extends through the full thickness of the skin. It may involve tendons and bones. Even a small foot ulcer can become infected if it does not heal quickly. If you have a sore that isn’t healing, you should contact a podiatrist or wound specialist at Weeks as soon as possible. With advance wound care treatment, most ulcers heal within several months.
Does Weeks offer treatment for diabetes, foot care, and foot wounds?
Weeks offers comprehensive treatment for diabetes, foot care, and foot wounds. We recommend seeking care from a primary care provider first where a proper treatment plan can be developed. You may then be referred to one of our podiatrists or to our Wound Healing Center for more specialized medical treatment. Weeks also offers the services of a certified diabetes educator and holds a regular diabetes support group meeting on the third Tuesday of the month. We also publish a monthly diabetes newsletter with tips, recipes, and advice for staying healthy.
For more information about diabetes, contact your primary care provider at 603-788-2521. For more information about diabetic wounds, contact the Wound Healing Center at 603-788-5625.