At least 50% of women, men, and children with diabetes also have chronic and debilitating foot pain. Even more troubling, diabetes can cause nerve damage called neuropathy that interferes with your ability to feel pain in your feet. That’s why some people with diabetes develop serious foot ulcers and infections without even realizing it.
Eric Blanson, DPM, is an expert podiatrist who also specializes in diabetic foot care and nerve pain. At PMC Foot and Ankle Clinic in Spring, Texas, he gives your feet the extra care they need if you have diabetes. Here, he provides a brief guide to diabetic foot care.
Why foot care is important
If you have diabetes, you have higher levels of glucose in your blood than is normal or healthy. Prolonged high blood glucose levels damage your circulatory system and your nerves, particularly the nerve endings in your feet.
This combination leads to serious health conditions, such neuropathy and peripheral vascular disease. These conditions, in turn, increase your risk for more foot problems.
Foot conditions that arise from diabetes
Taking special care of your feet goes a long way toward preventing problems. If diabetes-related foot issues do develop, the most common are:
Diabetic neuropathy is nerve damage. Neuropathy causes you to lose feeling and sensations in your feet. If you can’t feel pain when your foot is injured or when a blister develops, your risk of these wounds becoming infected increases, putting you at risk for further complications, including gangrene and amputation.
Peripheral vascular disease
Uncontrolled diabetes damages your circulatory system and blood vessels. The result can be peripheral vascular disease. This condition blocks the blood vessels in your legs, which prevents your feet from getting adequate blood. Any wounds or injuries on your feet then have trouble healing, which increases the risk of infection.
How to avoid diabetic foot problems
When you’re aware of the potential complications and take action to prevent them, you can keep your feet healthy. We provide you with specific steps for your unique situation.
The most important step is to control your blood sugar. Research demonstrates that managing your blood sugar well can prevent nerve damage. If you already have neuropathy, controlling blood sugar levels prevents it from progressing.
Other steps you can take to protect your feet include:
- Maintain regular podiatry appointments
- Stay physically active to improve circulation and prevent neuropathy
- Wear well-fitting, diabetes-friendly footwear that accommodates swelling
- Practice good foot hygiene
- Keep nails trimmed straight across to prevent ingrown nails
- Moisturize your feet to prevent cracks
- Keep feet sweat-free by changing socks frequently
- Avoid going barefoot to reduce your risk of cuts and wounds
Also be sure to inspect your feet daily so you’re alerted to potential damage as early as possible.
How to improve your foot care
Dr. Blanson and our team at PMC Ankle provide excellent diabetic foot care. By visiting Dr. Blanson at least once each year for a preventive diabetic foot exam, you address any issues early and prevent complications.
Dr. Blanson may recommend more frequent visits if you have issues that require ongoing attention and care. Be sure to schedule an exam right away if you develop any of the following symptoms:
- Blood or pus in your socks or shoes
- Tingling or numbness in your feet or toes
- Painful feet or toes
- Pain or stiffness in your joints
If you have diabetes, contact us today for a diabetic foot care exam and tips for keeping your feet healthy and safe. Call our office or schedule your appointment online today.