Diabetes is a condition where your blood sugar levels become elevated, either because your pancreas doesn’t produce enough of the hormone insulin to break sugar down (type 1), or your body becomes resistant to insulin’s effects (type 2).
At Monroe Foot & Ankle Care in Jamesburg, New Jersey, 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. It both restores your mobility and reduces your risk of serious complications from the disease. Keep reading to learn what you can do to take proper care of your feet.
The diabetes-foot disease connection
Left untreated, diabetes can lead to a number of other health conditions, including poor circulation, neuropathy (impaired nerve function characterized by burning, tingling, numbness, and pain), and a weakened immune system.
In addition, your feet become more susceptible to injury because poor circulation leads to reduced sensation. You may not realize you stubbed your toe, got a cut, have an ingrown toenail, or have a sore developing before it becomes ulcerated and infected.
Foot wounds have now become the most common diabetes-related cause of hospitalization, and they’re often a precursor to amputation. Diabetics have a 30-times higher lifetime risk of having a lower extremity amputated than those without diabetes. Diabetics also run at least a 10-fold greater risk of being hospitalized for soft tissue and bone infections of their feet than people without diabetes, and infected foot wounds precede about two-thirds of lower-extremity amputations.
Diagnosis and treatment of diabetic foot problems
Here at Monroe Foot & Ankle Care, we take a comprehensive approach to diagnosing your diabetes-related foot problems. Dr. Perel reviews your medical history and your symptoms, examines your feet and toes, and performs comprehensive neurologic and vascular evaluations.
He might also prescribe blood tests, X-rays or other imaging tests, and/or nerve conduction tests to diagnose the specific cause of the foot issues you’re having.
Depending on the results of his evaluation, Dr. Perel might recommend:
- Diabetic shoes and insoles: These reduce the risk of sores, serious wounds, and infection; extra-depth shoes also prevent feet from getting pinched or rubbed.
- Wound care: Following damaged-tissue removal, he may prescribe oral or topical antibiotics, dressings, and bandages.
DIY proper foot care
There are many things you can do to prevent foot problems from happening before they become a problem.
- Inspect your feet every day: Check for redness, blisters, cuts, swelling, or nail problems.
- Wash your feet every day: Use lukewarm water (never hot, which can scald); use a soft cloth or sponge.
- Dry your feet gently: Blot and pat, don’t rub; make sure to dry between your toes.
- Moisturize your feet: This prevents itching and cracking; don’t moisturize between toes, which can lead to a fungal infection.
- Cut toenails carefully: Cut straight across and file the edges; cutting too short could lead to ingrown nails.
- Don’t treat corns, calluses, or blisters yourself; that’s your doctor’s job.
- Always wear clean, dry socks; wear to bed if your feet are cold instead of using a heating pad.
- Look for diabetic socks: They have extra cushioning, no elastic tops, are higher than the ankle, and are made from moisture-repelling fibers.
- Get shoes with extra depth and wide toe boxes to prevent rubbing and chafing.
- Inspect your shoes before wearing: Your feet might not feel a foreign object that could injure.
- Never walk barefoot.
- Get periodic foot exams: This prevents complications.
At Monroe Foot & Ankle Care, we’re committed to your foot health. If you’re diabetic and need help managing your foot care, give our office a call at 732-328-6798, or schedule your consultation online with Dr. Perel today.