Treatment for Diabetes When it Attacks the Feet
Proper foot care for people with diabetes is essential. The number of people with diabetes keeps growing. According to the American Diabetes Association, about 25.8 million Americans (8.3% of the United States population) have diabetes.
It is very important that people with diabetes focus on proper foot care. A small problem in a healthy person could become a severe one to a person with diabetes.
Diabetes can affect your feet in a number of ways. Below are some of the common problems associated with diabetes and your feet. Proper foot care is critical to keeping your feet healthy. An appointment with our doctors at Kansas City Foot and Ankle is important to keep your feet healthy and avoid any of the complications below.
Infection is one of the most common complications of the diabetic foot. Because diabetes can reduce the immune response, a diabetic patient’s ability to fight infection is decreased. Early treatment of infection is a critical component to success. If neglected, infection of the foot can lead to ulceration, bone infection, and ultimately amputation.
Neuropathy is numbness in the feet. Elevated blood sugar levels can reduce the nerve’s ability to readily send pain signals that would normally let you know when there’s a problem, such as an area of an irritation or a wound. This may cause a patient to underestimate or worse, not identify a foot problem. When you lose the feeling in your feet, they are more prone to developing wounds or ulcers from areas of irritation that go unchecked. Neuropathy may also be responsible for an absence of perspiration leading to dry, cracking skin that can more easily become infected.
Foot ulcers are local skin defects with inflammation or infection. Open sores may easily become infected as higher sugar levels reduce your body’s ability to fight infection. A break in the skin without proper treatment may become an ulcer.
Charcot Joint Disease
With Charcot Joint Disease, the joints in your foot break down, fracture and even disintegrate, and yet one continues to walk on it because it may not hurt. This is one of the most serious foot problems that people with diabetes can face. However, most diabetic foot ulcers and early phases of Charcot fractures can be treated simply with non-surgical measures.
Calluses are a thickening of skin on the bottom of the feet that occur due to increased pressure beneath a boney prominence. Calluses may not be painful, especially in the presence of neuropathy. If calluses are not controlled and excessive pressures continue then calluses can break down into ulcerations or open wounds that can lead to infections. The goal in treating calluses is to remove the thickened tissue and redistribute the weight bearing forces across the bottom of the foot, reducing forces beneath the callused area in an effort to prevent the callus from continuing to develop.
Poor circulation is a decrease in blood supply to the feet and legs. Symptoms of poor circulation may include pain, numbness, discolored skin, excessive dryness and breakdown of the skin leading to ulceration. Treatment for poor circulation requires adequate daily exercise to help improve circulation, medications to improve blood flow and sometimes surgery is necessary to increase blood flow to the lower extremities.
Footwear for people with diabetes is especially important. Patients with diabetes should always wear properly fitting shoes with wide toe boxes to reduce irritation on the forefoot and toes. If toe deformities are present, such as hammertoes, extra depth shoes would be appropriate to reduce pressure on the digits. Through the Medicare Diabetic Shoe Bill, Medicare provides one pair of diabetic shoes and three pair of protective diabetic insoles every year for patients with diabetes who qualify. Diabetic shoes and insoles will help prevent areas of irritation from developing and help prevent complications from occurring.
Kansas City Foot and Ankle offers some basic advice on foot care for people who have diabetes.
Diabetes care for your foot can be very complicated and good podiatric care is an essential component of managing diabetes. If you have diabetes and would like some help in managing your feet, please call our office to set up an appointment.