Diabetes and Foot Care
Foot care amongst diabetics is incredibly important. Foot ulcers affect as many as 1 out of 10 people with diabetes.
Even small ulcers on the foot can represent a serious risk: they may heal extremely slowly and need rigorous treatment to cure.
Ulcers can develop into serious lower body infections, with the possibility of amputation at an advanced stage.
Caring for your feet
However, caring for your feet as a diabetic is not difficult, and it should be a prime consideration.
This section details complications that may affect the diabetic foot, and some methods and information about care.
Why should I be so careful?
The presence of high blood glucose levels over a long period of time may result in damage to the body and to bodily functions.
Although it is uncertain how this process works, amongst diabetics it is relatively frequent.
A condition called diabetic neuropathy sometimes occurs over time.
Commonly, this manifests itself as peripheral neuropathy, and usually affects the sensory nerves in the legs.
If your nervous system is even slightly damaged, the extremities of the body can become numb.
For this reason, you may not be able to feel foot problems until they have developed. It is key to ensure you have regular foot examinations.
Dry and cracked feet
Furthermore, normal skin lubrication may be impaired and the feet may become dry and cracked. Pressure from walking and running may go unfelt, whilst developing into serious problems.
Complications may develop into neuropathic ulcers, which are typified by the following factors:
- Little or disproportionate pain
- Location at the centre of a ring of calluses
- Located under the feet and at the tips of the toes
To make matters more complicated, because the immune system may be damaged or not functioning correctly, these impediments may take longer to heal. Infections may quickly spread and become gangrenous.
Foot care tips for diabetics
There are a number of healthcare tips that should be adhered to in order to make sure your feet stay as healthy as possible.
Examine you feet yourself
Feet are somewhat like teeth. It is easy to ignore mild problems with them, hoping that they will go away.
However, the best course of action is to regularly examine your own feet for the slightest sign of ulcers or problems.
This can be particularly important if you are suffering from poor circulation and numbness. Treat any cut, graze, bruise or mark with suspicion: either treat it yourself or consult your doctor as soon as possible.
Also be aware of cracking from dry skin becoming ulcerated over time. Take extreme care of your feet, making sure that your socks and footwear are comfortable and fit well. If your eyesight has diminished due to diabetes, make sure that a professional is on hand to examine your feet and cut your nails.
Have your feet examined by a professional
Making sure that you receive a regular check-up from a health professional is also a good idea.
In this way, any problems will be detected at an early stage, and treatment should be relatively simple and painless.
Manage your diabetes
Strictly controlling your diabetes with an aggressive treatment regime, healthy diet and lifestyle, and an appropriate amount of exercise means that you are less likely to suffer from foot complications, such as foot ulcers.
How are diabetic foot ulcers treated?
Diabetic foot ulcers are treated depending upon their severity. The first stage will be to remove any factors that are exerting pressure on sensitive areas of the foot. This could include footwear such as shoes or socks.
Products for the diabetic foot
Several companies make specific products for the diabetic foot. Calluses must be removed regularly by a podiatrist or other specialist. The wound should be cleaned and dressed, protected by the bandage but allowed to breathe. In more severe cases, it may be necessary to wear an orthowedge: a special shoe designed to alleviate pressure on the front of the foot.
Further treatment may include the application of a contact cast, heavily padded inside to reduce pressure on the foot.
What is Charcot’s arthropathy?
Diabetic neuropathy may become further complicated by Charcot’s arthropathy.
This severe complication may affect both type 1 and type 2 diabetics, and occurs when diabetic neuropathy goes unnoticed.
Within the foot, unnoticed pressure causes weakening of the bones and internal fractures.
In worst cases this can lead to terminal ulceration, and the need for amputation. Charcot’s is hard to spot at first; its only symptoms are swelling.
The pain felt by the sufferer may be totally disproportionate to the injury.