Why do diabetics need to focus on foot care? This disease impacts the feet in a variety of ways. And, when you develop diabetic complications in your extremities, that can increase your risk for non-healing wounds, ulcers and even amputations. How can you prevent these dire outcomes? By caring for diabetic feet with these tips from Dr. Alvin Cowans, the Powder Springs podiatrist.
The Importance of Caring for Diabetic Feet
Diabetes can impact your body’s blood sugar levels. In turn, you may suffer nerve damage; experience changes to your circulatory system; and lose your ability to heal efficiently. Soon, your feet could be directly impacted, most commonly with the following conditions:
There are many causes of neuropathy, but diabetes is one of the most common, because high blood sugar levels can cause damage to your peripheral nerves. If you sustain this damage, your feet may feel numb or tingly. You may not feel pain or changes in temperature, meaning you could cut or burn your feet without realizing you’ve been hurt. that makes it harder for you sense temperature changes and pain. As a result, small injuries may go undetected, resulting in larger problems such as ulcers and amputations. However, by properly caring for diabetic feet, we can relieve symptoms of neuropathy and prevent further complications.
2. Changes to Your Circulation.
With diabetes, the blood vessels serving your feet and legs may narrow or harden. That reduces blood flow to the area, in turn making it harder for wounds on your feet or legs to heal. When combined with the reduced sensation of diabetic neuropathy, this can be a dangerous combination. After all, if you don’t notice a small wound, and your body struggles to heal the area, that little issue could quickly become a major problem. So, to protect your feet, we offer the Smart ABI (Ankle Brachial Index) test in the office, a pain-free, non-invasive, advanced way of caring for your feet. When we run this test, we get fast, easy-to-interpret feedback on differences between the blood pressure in your arm and ankle. Get a low score on this test? That could mean your circulation is compromised due to peripheral arterial disease (PAD). So it’s time to intervene before your feet pay the price.
3. Higher Risk for Amputations
Want to know the real reason why caring for diabetic feet is so critical? In this country, more than half of people who need foot or leg amputations suffered complications of diabetes. That’s why, at our podiatry practice in Powder Springs, GA, we’ve made it our mission to provide high-quality, preventative diabetic foot care. When you partner with Dr. Cowans to come to the office for regular check-ups, while focusing on home care for your diabetic feet, we’re helping prevent amputations and protecting your feet for years to come.
Caring for Diabetic Feet Together
While monitoring your blood sugar and insulin levels can be complicated, caring for diabetic feet doesn’t have to be. In fact, two simple things can go a long way to preventing complications: wearing diabetic shoes and performing daily foot checks. Let’s explore why these two steps may be the most important ways to prevent foot problems with diabetes.
The importance of diabetic shoes
Diabetic feet are very vulnerable to pressure, whether it comes from the structure of your foot or the shape of your shoes. Normally, feet respond to pressure by forming protective corns or calluses. But when diabetes has impaired your healing ability, those areas of built up skin can break down, leaving you with wounds or ulcers that you might not even feel!
Clearly, you need to keep pressure off your feet. And diabetic shoes are designed to do just that. Designed for depth, to keep pressure off the tops of your feet, and insoles to protect the spots beneath them, these shoes are actually considered medical devices. As such, your insurance or Medicare may cover their expense, giving you one less thing to worry about when caring for diabetic feet.
Additionally, some patients with diabetes may benefit from the addition support of custom orthotics. However, that’s a decision we’d make in the office, following a comprehensive foot exam.
Of course, even with special shoes and orthotics, your feet may come under pressure or sustain an injury. (You could get a rock in your shoe. Or, worse, you could go barefoot and step on a sharp object or even stub your toe.) Again, foot injuries are dangerous, especially if you have reduced sensation in your feet and may not immediately notice discomfort. So, to prevent a minor injury from turning into a limb-threatening ulcer, you need to carefully examine your feet on a daily basis.
How to Perform a Diabetic Foot Exam at Home
Our podiatrist in Powder Spring’s Lost Mountain region recommends quarterly office visits for comprehensive foot exams. But, at home, daily foot checks are the only way to protect your feet from complications. To make sure you stick to a schedule, establish a set time to do your checks each day—many patients decide to do their exams just before bed, after cleaning, drying and moisturizing their feet.
To get started, make sure you’re able to see your entire foot, top and bottom. Checking your heel and sole can be tough, so a partner or mirror may help you get a better view. Now, when examining your foot, look carefully for any changes in appearance, taking note of any differences, especially if you see:
• Holes in the Skin
• Pus or bleeding
• Stuck or protruding objects
Caring for Diabetic Feet: When to Call the Podiatrist
Any changes to diabetic feet are a reason to call us right away. We’ll want to see you right away to address the cause of your concern and to help prevent further complications.
Have you noticed red spots on your diabetic feet? That could be pressure forming, ready to cause trouble. Got a new patch of rough skin? A callous could be right around the corner…but don’t wait until one forms. Instead, call us at 770-727-0614 to request an immediate appointment, or click here to connect with us online.