Diabetes is a metabolic disorder occurring when there is a problem with the pancreas not producing enough insulin. This leads to uncontrolled blood sugar levels, which could cause serious problems if not properly managed such as nerve damage that is predominantly seen in the lower limbs.
How diabetes effects your feet
There are several different foot problems that are associated with unmanaged diabetes. Proper diabetic foot care and treatment can help prevent or lessen complications.
Diabetic Foot Pain
Diabetic foot pain is often described as tingling, burning, sharp, shooting and lighting-like sensations in the feet. It is reported that up to 50% of diabetic individuals will experience nerve pain in their foot or feet. Damage and pain from diabetes-related conditions not only affects your overall quality of life, but it can also impact your sleep and lead to depression.
Reduced blood Flow
Individuals with diabetes often have high blood sugar levels, effecting vital blood vessels and nerves. Any damage to blood vessels or nerves can cause long-term effects on the legs and feet, as diabetes reduces the blood flow to the lower extremities thereby making it harder to heal from an injury or resist infection. If an injury, sore, or blister goes unnoticed, an infection or diabetic foot ulcer may develop. This could lead to gangrene and the need for amputation of your foot, toe or portion of your lower leg.
Diabetic neuropathy is generally characterized by nerve damage caused when diabetes is not properly controlled. Symptoms of neuropathy include numbness, burning sensations or a loss of feeling in the lower legs or feet. Treatment options for diabetic neuropathy focus on preventing nerve damage by managing diabetes and keeping blood sugar levels in check. If prevention is unsuccessful, a proper diet, exercise plan and medication can help manage symptoms. Certain supplements, physical therapy and surgery can also help improve or reverse symptoms.
Charcot's foot is a chronic condition which develops from diabetic neuropathy, leading to weakening of the bones in the foot. It is a serious problem that can lead to a severe deformity or disability, or even amputation. If the treatment process gets delayed, the disorder could cause joints to collapse and the foot to take an abnormal shape. Individuals who suffer from Charcot foot will need to consult their podiatrists for a treatment plan, which normally consists of immobilization, a walking boost or cast, or surgery.
How to Care for Your Feet
It is imperative for an individual living with diabetes to check his or her feet daily for any breaks in the skin, redness, swelling or spots that are warm to the touch. It is also important to check feet for any reduced sensitivity.
If any of these problems are observed, you should promptly seek the advice from your podiatrist who could recommend the appropriate diabetic foot treatment plan.
To prevent complications, you should protect your feet with proper diabetic foot care:
- Wash feet daily with lukewarm water using mild soap
- Be sure to completely dry feet
- Keep skin soft and smooth with a podiatrist- recommended lotion
- Always wear closed-toed shoes or slippers and avoid walking barefoot
Diabetic footwear, available for both men and women, is designed keeping in mind the foot problems which can affect diabetic individuals, such as infections, blisters and ulcers. When it comes to choosing the best shoes, it is important to have footwear that fits well, allowing pressure to be distributed evenly across the feet. Proper fitting diabetic footwear also helps prevent you from developing hammertoe, blisters, corns and ingrown toenails.
Diabetic shoes for men and women are ideal for patients suffering from diabetic neuropathy, poor circulation or nerve damage. Diabetic footwear helps individuals protect their feet from injuries and from developing any wounds, cuts or sores.
Foot problems are often common for individuals who suffer from diabetes. Managing your blood sugar levels daily can help you keep your feet healthy. If your dealing with any complications, always consult your podiatrist to ensure your feet remain pain-free!