Diabetic Foot Care
Diabetic Foot Care
Diabetes has a major impact on the nerves and blood vessels of the feet, increasing the risk of minor ordinary foot problems turning in to a major emergency. Good diabetes management and correct foot care can help prevent complications that raise the risk of amputation. People with diabetes should inspect, and monitor their feet daily. If you find any injury, call us immediately. Do not treat it yourself. Our Podiatrist at Orthopedic Specialists of North County – San Diego can help. When you partner with us in your care, together we can keep you healthy and moving, so you can enjoy life.
Diabetic foot problems are a common reason for hospitalization. Two serious complications of diabetes are nerve damage (neuropathy) and poor circulation (atherosclerosis). Neuropathy affects about 60-70% of people with diabetes. Ulcers are related to neuropathy and to poor circulation. Infection aggravates ulceration and increases the risk of amputation.
Symptoms of diabetic nerve damage include tingling, pain, burning, stinging and even foot weakness. While it can be painful, nerve damage can also cause a loss of sensation. People with neuropathy can injure their feet without knowing it, increasing the risk of infection. Infection can result in ulcers that won’t heal, and ultimately surgery. Chronic nerve damage causes dry and cracked skin, which can lead to infection.
Poor circulation interferes with the ability to heal, and fight infection. The blood vessels in the foot and leg harden and block blood flow. Poor circulation causes cold feet. If the diabetic foot cannot feel heat, there is a risk of burning the feet with the use of hot water or heating pads.
Don’t smoke. Control your blood sugar. Exercise because it will stimulate blood flow to the legs and feet. You may be prescribed medication to improve your circulation.
Because the nerves that control moisture in the foot are damaged, the skin changes, becoming dry, and may peel and crack. Areas of the foot that are under high pressure cause calluses and corns to develop more often and faster than normal. If not trimmed carefully and regularly, they get very thick, break down and turn in to ulcers.
Foot ulcers typically appear on the ball of the foot, the heel, and the bottom of the big toe. Neglecting ulcers because they may not hurt, is dangerous and can lead to infections that result in amputation.
If you find an ulcer, contact us immediately. You may need x-rays to assure the bones are not infected. Let us clean away dead and infected skin. You may need antibiotics.
Stay off your feet because walking can enlarge the ulcers and force infection into your bones. Ask us about special shoes to take the pressure off the ulcers so they can heal, and protect your foot.
When your ulcers won’t heal because you have poor circulation, you may be referred to a vascular surgeon. Control your blood sugar levels because out of control blood sugar makes it difficult to fight infection.
Once the ulcer heals, carefully care for your foot. Scar tissue under a healed wound is not strong and can break down easily.
Amputation is a common problem in people with diabetes. It is due to peripheral artery disease (PAD) that reduces blood flow to the feet, as well as loss of sensation. The combination creates the environment for foot ulcers and infection.
When to call your Podiatrist
Foot care is critical for diabetics. Check your feet daily and call us about any foot problems you have. Watch out for blisters, sores or cuts that won’t heal, tingling or burning, pain, ingrown toe nails, swelling and pain, and changes in color, shape or sensation of your feet.
- Control your blood sugar levels.
- Get exercise to stimulate blood flow
- Moisturize the skin on your feet and legs.
- Wear socks all the time, and if you have lost sensation, wear shoes all the time.
- Protect your feet from hot and cold.
- Choose the right footwear.
- Get orthotics- shoe inserts that can minimize the risk of pressure sores.
Discuss all your concerns with your Podiatrist at Orthopedic Specialists of North County serving San Diego, Oceanside, Vista, San Marcos, Escondido, Carlsbad, Encinitas, and Solana Beach, California. We have been serving patients since 1973 and are here to help you manage your health.