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I'm a Diabetic: What Do I Need to Know About Foot Care?

I'm a Diabetic: What Do I Need to Know About Foot Care?

If you’re a diabetic, it means your blood sugar is elevated beyond safe levels for your overall health. It may be caused by one of two problems:

  1. The beta cells in your pancreas don’t produce enough insulin to convert sugar (glucose) into energy (type 1)
  2. Your cells become resistant to insulin’s effects (type 2)

At Monroe Foot & Ankle Care, podiatric physician and board-certified foot surgeon Dr. Elliott Perel and his team understand the link between diabetes and foot problems, which is why they offer advanced diabetic foot care for their patients in the Monroe Township, New Jersey area. Proper care both restores your mobility and reduces your risk of serious complications from the disease. Here’s what you need to know about your foot care.

How does diabetes affect the feet?

The high blood sugar levels of diabetes can lead to a number of other health conditions, from poor circulation to heart disease to a weakened immune system. It can also impair nerve function in the feet, causing burning, tingling, numbness, and pain. This is termed peripheral neuropathy. 

In addition to sustaining nerve damage, the poor circulation in your feet makes them more susceptible to injury because it further reduces sensation. You may not realize you have a bruise, cut, or ingrown toenail before the foot becomes ulcerated and infected.

Foot wounds are now the most common diabetes-related reason for hospitalization. They’re also often a precursor to amputation. Some 80% of diabetic lower-limb amputations start with a foot ulcer. By taking proper care of your feet, you don’t have to be part of that statistic.

Diagnosing and treating diabetic foot problems

Though here at Monroe Foot & Ankle Care we specialize in diagnosing and treating foot conditions, the first recommendation Dr. Perel is likely to make is to get your blood sugar levels under control. Until you remove the source of the problem, you’ll continue to experience symptoms.

Next, Dr. Perel reviews your medical history and symptoms; examines your ankles, feet, and toes; and performs comprehensive vascular and neurologic evaluations. He might also order X-rays or other imaging tests, blood tests, and/or nerve conduction tests to determine the specific cause of the foot issues you’re having.

Depending on what he finds, Dr. Perel might recommend:

Diabetic shoes and insoles

Diabetic shoes provide extra depth and cushioning and a large toe box so your toes don’t get cramped. They also don’t have large seams that could rub or chafe, reducing the risk of sores, serious wounds, and infection.

Wound care

Dr. Perel removes any damaged tissue from sores and open wounds to allow them to heal. He may then prescribe oral or topical antibiotics, ointments, dressings, and bandages to remove any infection and keep the area clean.

Is there anything I can do to prevent diabetic foot problems?

Yes, there are! And preventing a problem from starting is better than treating a problem after the fact. Here are some suggestions:

Inspect and wash your feet every day

Since your nerves may not be sending pain signals indicating a problem, you need to proactively check for blisters, cuts, swelling, or nail problems so you can address them before they become severe. Then, wash your feet using lukewarm water with a soft cloth or sponge and blot dry, making sure to get between your toes to prevent a fungal infection.

Cut your toenails carefully

The last thing you need is to cut your skin while trimming your toenails, but trimming the nails is important; long nails can cut into the skin themselves. Make sure to cut straight across, not angled, and trim only to the end of your toe to prevent ingrown nails.

Pay attention to your socks

Always wear clean, dry socks, and change them if you perspire too much to prevent infection. If your feet are cold at night, use socks rather than a heating pad that can scald. Also look for diabetic socks: They’re made with extra cushioning and no elastic at the top from moisture-repelling materials, and they reach higher than the ankle.

Get your feet professionally checked

There’s nothing like a professional once-over to ensure all’s well with your feet. Dr. Perel is here to help you understand your condition and manage it to the best of both your abilities. That includes treating complications like corns, calluses, and blisters.

If you’re a diabetic, you need expert foot care, and Monroe Foot & Ankle Care is here to help. Give our office a call at 732-521-6166, or book your appointment online with us today.

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