Wednesday, February 28, 2024

How Does Diabetes Affect Your Feet

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How To Avoid Injury To Feet With Damaged Nerves

SSM Health Medical Minute How does diabetes affect your feet?

Suggestions include:

  • Wear appropriate shoes to protect your feet.
  • Avoid injury by wearing well-fitting, protective shoes do not wear open-toed shoes.
  • Keep toenails trimmed. Cut toenails along the shape of the toe and file rough edges.
  • Have corns or calluses treated by a podiatrist.
  • Check the temperature of your bath water with your elbow before stepping into the bath.
  • Be careful not to put your feet too close to radiant heaters.
  • Every six months, check for signs and symptoms that may indicate you have a problem. These may include reduced circulation or sensations, abnormal foot structure or poor hygiene.

What Is The Outlook For People With Diabetic Foot

Diabetic foot ulcers are fairly common in people who have had diabetes for a long time. Even with foot checks and careful blood glucose monitoring, some people with diabetes develop infections.

The outlook depends on factors such as:

  • How early the wound was found.
  • Presence of infection and how much it spreads.
  • Treatment effectiveness.

If the infection cant be controlled and spreads too far, amputation may be necessary.

What Causes Diabetic Feet

Long-term high blood sugar can cause a type of nerve damage called diabetic neuropathy. Diabetic neuropathy can occur throughout the body, but most often in the legs and feet.

The condition might make you lose feeling in your feet. If your feet are numb, you might not notice a blister, cut or sore. You might not even feel a pebble in your sock that is cutting your foot, for example. Wounds that go unnoticed and untreated can become infected.

Diabetes can also affect blood flow to your legs and feet. People with diabetes are more likely to develop peripheral artery disease . This condition causes arteries to become narrowed or blocked. Reduced blood flow can make it difficult for a diabetic foot ulcer or infection to heal.

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Take Care Of Your Feet

When you have diabetes, caring for your feet is very important in avoiding serious foot complications. Take care for your feet by doing the following:

  • Wash your feet thoroughly everyday
  • Dry them thoroughly, and dont forget to dry between your toes
  • Moisturize your feet, but avoid moisturizing between your toes
  • Keep your toenails trim, and use an emery board to file down sharp edges
  • Check your feet for sores, cuts, blisters, corns, or redness daily. Let your doctor know if you find any of these.
  • Wear moisture wicking socks
  • Before putting your shoes on, check for sharp objects
  • Wear shoes that fit well and dont rub your feet

While youre at it, avoid these:

  • Dont walk around barefoot
  • Dont soak your feet

Support Your Feet With Diabetes

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Shoe shopping for people with diabetes requires a little more attention to detail than you may be used to. Tillett advises looking for shoes with more depth in the toe box, good coverage of both top and bottom, and without seams inside the shoe that can rub on your foot. Likewise, seek socks without seams, preferably socks that are padded and made from cotton or another material that controls moisture.

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What Should I Do If I Have These Symptoms

If you start to notice any unusual sensations or pain in your feet or hands, schedule an appointment with your doctor. Theyll can do a quick test to see if your feet can feel properly. It involves your doctor brushing a soft piece of nylon along different areas of your feet as you keep your eyes closed and say yes every time you think you feel it.

If you have diabetes, your doctor will likely perform this test at least once a year to catch nerve problems early and help stop them from getting worse. They may also suggest that you meet with a foot doctor . If your doctor thinks you really do have nerve damage, they could ask you to have additional tests done to see how serious it is, but these tend to be more invasive and are not recommended on a regular basis.

Signs Of Foot Issues With Diabetes

Poor blood circulation and blood flow can slow the healing process of sores on your feet, putting you at risk for serious life-threatening complications.

Even if you havent lost feeling in your feet, bring the following symptoms to your doctors attention. Signs of feet issues include:

You can avoid serious diabetes complications by seeing your doctor and getting treatment early for conditions that affect your feet.

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Nerve Supply To The Feet

Nerves are the wiring of the body. They carry messages to your brain from the rest of your body. The nerves to your feet are the most likely to be affected by diabetes.Damaged nerves can cause painful, numb or insensitive feet. Minor cuts, blisters or burns may not be felt and ulcers can develop, which you may not be aware of. Some people with neuropathy experience uncomfortable sensations such as burning, tingling and pain. This is often worse at night.It is important to remember that many people with nerve damage have no symptoms and are unaware of the problem. Nevertheless, they are still at risk of developing ulcers.

Prevention Of Foot Problems

How does Diabetes affect your teeth, eyes and feet?

You can prevent foot problems by washing and checking your feet daily for injury. Through vigilance, you can catch any problems when they first occur.

If you find that you have foot problems because of your diabetes, schedule an appointment with Dr. Rambacher and his team at Podiatry Hotline Foot & Ankle. They will assess your condition and suggest a treatment plan, as well as monitor your recovery to ensure the problem doesnt worsen.

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Can I Prevent Diabetes

The best way you can prevent diabetes-related foot pain is by managing your diabetes as best as you can. Remember, high sugar levels is what causes the nerve pain. By managing your blood sugar levels through diet, exercise, and medications, youre taking steps to prevent the various complications of diabetes.

If youre already experiencing diabetes-related foot pain, its still important to manage your sugar levels. As we discussed, lowering your blood sugar can actually improve your symptoms. Talk to your doctor to discuss proper foot care and the best treatment options for you.

Tips For Diabetic Foot Care

Proper foot care can prevent these common foot problems or treat them before they cause serious complications. Here are some tips for good foot care:

  • Take care of yourself and your diabetes. Follow your doctor’s advice regarding nutrition, exercise, and medication. Keep your blood sugar level within the range recommended by your doctor.
  • Wash your feet in warm water every day, using a mild soap. Test the temperature of the water with your elbow because nerve damage can affect sensation in your hands, too. Do not soak your feet. Dry your feet well, especially between your toes.
  • Check your feet every day for sores, blisters, redness, calluses, or any other problems. If you have poor blood flow, it is especially important to check your feet daily.
  • If the skin on your feet is dry, keep it moist by applying lotion after you wash and dry your feet. Do not put lotion between your toes. Your doctor can tell you which type of lotion is best.
  • Gently smooth corns and calluses with an emery board or pumice stone. Do this after your bath or shower, when your skin is soft. Move the emery board in only one direction.
  • Check your toenails once a week. Trim your toenails with a nail clipper straight across. Do not round off the corners of toenails or cut down on the sides of the nails. After clipping, smooth the toenails with a nail file.
  • Always wear closed-toed shoes or slippers. Do not wear sandals and do not walk barefoot, even around the house.
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    Check In With Your Care Team For More Help

    Your doctor and your diabetes healthcare team are great sources of information if you need ideas and inspiration for taking care of your feet, quitting smoking, or staying on top of your numbers your weight, blood sugar, and other measures of health, such as blood pressure. Of course, if you notice any changes in your feet that concern you, its a good idea to see your doctor before your next regularly scheduled check-up.

    Keep Your Feet Dry To Reduce The Risk Of Infection

    How Does Diabetes Affect Your Feet

    Make sure that drying your feet is part of your hygiene routine. The space between the toes is very airtight, says Tillett. Skin gets moist and breaks down, leading to infection. Prevent this by toweling off thoroughly after washing your feet and by removing wet or sweaty socks or shoes immediately. As mentioned previously, you can still use moisturizer to prevent dry, cracked skin just avoid putting it between your toes.

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    How Does Diabetes Affect Your Feet And Legs

    If you’re managing diabetes, you may encounter problems with your feet and legs, two common complications of the disease. Diabetes puts you at higher risk for calluses, corns, bunions, blisters, and ulcers and high blood sugar means these minor injuries and alterations may become gateways to potentially disabling infections.

    But you can take several steps to help keep your feet in good shape, including wearing specialized footwear, having regular foot exams, and performing low-impact exercise.

    Why does this complication occur in the first place? First, know that high blood sugar levels damage nerves. Researchers arent exactly sure how this damage happens, but they think that blood sugar may have a negative effect on the nervous systems cells and enzymes, according to the Joslin Diabetes Center. These damaged nerves may lead to diabetic neuropathy, a condition in which you lose feeling in your feet or your hands.

    According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, neuropathy occurs in about 70 percent of people with diabetes, and its symptoms can result in harmful infections. After all, if you can’t feel your feet, you won’t be able to notice cuts, sores, or pain. And if you cant feel these irritations and wounds, they may lead to infection, and untreated infections can lead to gangrene, which in turn can require amputation.

    Additional reporting by Carlene Bauer

    Don’t Use Your Feet To Test Hot Water

    When people with diabetes develop nerve damage, or neuropathy, it can be hard to tell if bath water is too hot. They wont realize they are actually scalding their skin, explains Dr. Tillett. Stepping into a bath before checking the temperature can cause serious damage to your feet, since burns and blisters are open doors to infection. Use your elbow to check the water temperature before getting into the tub or shower.

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    Check Your Feet Every Day

    You may have foot problems, but feel no pain in your feet. Checking your feet each day will help you spot problems early before they get worse. A good way to remember is to check your feet each evening when you take off your shoes. Also check between your toes. If you have trouble bending over to see your feet, try using a mirror to see them, or ask someone else to look at your feet.

    Look for problems such as

    • cuts, sores, or red spots
    • swelling or fluid-filled blisters
    • ingrown toenails, in which the edge of your nail grows into your skin
    • corns or calluses, which are spots of rough skin caused by too much rubbing or pressure on the same spot
    • plantar warts, which are flesh-colored growths on the bottom of the feet
    • athletes foot
    • warm spots

    If you have certain foot problems that make it more likely you will develop a sore on your foot, your doctor may recommend taking the temperature of the skin on different parts of your feet. A hot spot can be the first sign that a blister or an ulcer is starting.

    Cover a blister, cut, or sore with a bandage. Smooth corns and calluses as explained below.

    Wear Shoes And Socks At All Times

    Diabetes and How It Affects the Feet

    Wear shoes and socks at all times. Do not walk barefoot or in just socks even when you are indoors. You could step on something and hurt your feet. You may not feel any pain and may not know that you hurt yourself.

    Check the inside of your shoes before putting them on, to make sure the lining is smooth and free of pebbles or other objects.

    Make sure you wear socks, stockings, or nylons with your shoes to keep from getting blisters and sores. Choose clean, lightly padded socks that fit well. Socks with no seams are best.

    Wear shoes that fit well and protect your feet. Here are some tips for finding the right type of shoes:

    • Walking shoes and athletic shoes are good for daily wear. They support your feet and allow them to breathe.
    • Do not wear vinyl or plastic shoes, because they do not stretch or breathe.
    • When buying shoes, make sure they feel good and have enough room for your toes. Buy shoes at the end of the day, when your feet are the largest, so that you can find the best fit.
    • If you have a bunion, or hammertoes, which are toes that curl under your feet, you may need extra-wide or deep shoes.1 Do not wear shoes with pointed toes or high heels, because they put too much pressure on your toes.
    • If your feet have changed shape, such as from Charcots foot, you may need special shoes or shoe inserts, called orthotics. You also may need inserts if you have bunions, hammertoes, or other foot problems.

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    How Can Diabetes Affect Your Feet

    Diabetes can result in high glucose levels in the blood which can lead to a variety of complications throughout the body. It can damage the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys, and nerves. Diabetes can also cause foot complications that, if not treated properly, can lead to necessary use of antibiotics, hospitalization, and/or surgery requiring possible amputation of the toes, foot, and even lower leg.

    Poor Circulation

    There can be reduced blood to the foot due to injured blood vessels. Lack of circulation can weaken skin, contribute to wound development, and impair wound healing. Gangrene is another serious complication. Things get more complicated when the wound/gangrene is also infected. Poor blood flow results in decreased ability to fight infection. The inability to effectively heal wounds and/or gangrene can lead to surgery and possibly amputation.

    Nerve Damage

    High glucose blood levels damage nerves along the lower extremity causing a decrease in sensation of pain, temperature, and pressure. Diabetic patients can develop pressure points or calluses along the feet. Their inability to feel can cause breakage of the skin and an ulcer to form. Nerve injury can also weaken muscles within the foot resulting in foot deformities.

    Skin Changes

    If you are diabetic, it is important to get regular foot check-ups to prevent complications that can be caused by diabetes. Take control of your health and schedule your appointment with Aloha Foot and Ankle Associates today!

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    Types Of Diabetic Foot Problems

    Diabetes that isnt well managed can lead to slower healing. These slow-to-heal wounds can lead to infections.

    Other foot issues, like , are also common in people with diabetes. While calluses may not seem worrisome, if left untrimmed they can turn into ulcers or open sores.

    People with diabetes are also at risk for Charcot joint, a condition in which a weight-bearing joint progressively degenerates, leading to bone loss and deformity.

    Because of nerve damage, people with diabetes may not immediately notice that there are problems with their feet.

    Over time, people with diabetic neuropathy can develop foot problems that cant be healed, which can lead to amputations. Diabetes is one of the leading causes of lower-extremity amputations in the United States.

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    Inspect Your Feet Every Day For Cracks Wounds And Sores

    Nerve damage is a complication of diabetes that makes it hard to feel when you have sores or cracks in your feet. Patients with diabetes are looking for any changes in color, sores, or dry, cracked skin, says podiatrist Steven Tillett, DPM, of Portland, Oregon. Place a mirror on the floor to see under your feet or ask a friend or relative for help if you cant see all parts of your feet clearly.

    See A Podiatrist Regularly To Treat Foot Problems

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    Even seemingly harmless calluses may become problems if you ignore them, notes Tillett. When building your diabetes healthcare team, consider including a podiatrist, a doctor who specializes in foot care, instead of heading to the pharmacy for an over-the-counter product for feet some products are irritating to your skin and can actually increase the risk of infection even while they treat the bunion, callus, or corn on your foot.

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    What Are Some Risks If I Dont Get Treatment

    Diabetes-related foot pain is more than just pain its a warning sign from your body. This type of nerve pain can lead to complications if you dont see a doctor and get treated. Below are some of the problems that can come from untreated diabetes nerve pain:

    • Dry, cracked skin. This may not sound too bad, but when your skin is too dry, your risk of getting skin infections goes up. If this happens, plain petroleum jelly or unscented hand creams can help. Just avoid placing moisturizers between your toes.

    • . This is an area of thickened skin that has less feeling. People with diabetes get calluses faster and more often than those without diabetes. You can use a pumice stone daily to help keep them at a minimum. If they get really thick, a doctor can cut or shave them down. Never attempt to do this at home as it can lead to infections.

    • Ulcers. These are sores that happen to some people with diabetes due to poor blood circulation. All ulcers need to be seen by a doctor. The longer you go without seeing a doctor, the more likely it is that it will become infected. Infected ulcers can spread and cause you to lose your foot or leg.

    • Amputations. If the previously listed complications are not treated properly, they can all become infected. Skin infections can cause the skin and muscle tissues to die. Once this happens, it cant be fixed. The only way to stop the infection from continuing to spread is by amputating the infected limb.

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