Diabetes and Foot Care: What Is The Connection?

When discussing diabetes, one cannot overlook foot care. The feet are a very common area of concern for people living with diabetes. In fact, it’s recommended to consistently stay on top of foot health if you are a diabetic. 

Diabetes affects other organs and peripheries in the body. In this article, we will discuss diabetes and its most commonly seen foot conditions. 

What Is Diabetes?

Diabetes is the body’s inability to produce insulin (Type 1) or absorb insulin (Type 2). It impairs the body’s ability to convert sugars, starches, and other foods into energy. As a result, the sugars stay in the bloodstream, thus causing elevated blood sugar levels. 

The long-term effects of elevated blood sugar (hyperglycemia) can lead to serious damage to the eyes, heart, kidney, nerves, and feet

Diabetes and Your Feet

Diabetes can cause nerve damage (peripheral neuropathy) and poor blood flow circulation to the legs and feet. This can make it difficult for a person with diabetes to feel a foot injury such as a blister or cut. If left unnoticed or untreated these injuries, however small, can lead to an infection. 

Infection can then lead to more serious complications. 

As a result, it’s vital for diabetic people to keep their feet healthy and regularly check to ensure there are no injuries or wounds to the feet. 

Some Foot Care Tips To Practice Regularly

  • Establish a foot care routine: keep the well-groomed
  • Trim your toenails straight across and file any sharp edges. Don’t cut the nail too short. 
  • Wash your feet in warm water, using a mild soap, and don’t soak to avoid overdrying it. 
  • Dry your feet carefully, especially between your toes.
  • Thoroughly check your feet and between your toes to make sure there are no cute or cracks or ingrown toenails, etc. 
  • Clean cuts or scratches with mild soap and water, and cover with a dry dressing
  • Apply a good lotion to your heels and soles. 
  • Wipe off excess lotion and don’t put lotion between your toes, as excess moisture can promote infection. 
  • Wear fresh clean socks and well-fitting shoes every day. 

The most common conditions regarding the feet and people with diabetes are peripheral neuropathy and diabetic foot ulcers. 

What is Peripheral Neuropathy?

Peripheral neuropathy occurs when the nerves that travel to the arms and legs become damaged. As a result, these limbs do not function properly and have decreased sensation in the toes and fingers. Over time, it can lead to further damage and impair movement in these parts of the body as well. 

The most common cause of peripheral neuropathy is diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association, 60 to 70 percent of people with diabetes will develop neuropathy within their lifetime.

It’s important for people with diabetes to be proactive. Any change in sensation in the fingers or toes may be a symptom of peripheral neuropathy and should be reported to a doctor. 

What is a Diabetic Foot Ulcer?

A diabetic foot ulcer is an open sore or wound that occurs on the bottom of the foot. 

Approximately 15% of people with diabetes will develop a foot ulcer, and 6% of them end up being hospitalized as a result. About 14-24% of patients with diabetes who develop a foot ulcer will require an amputation. In fact, a foot ulcer has been found on 85% of those that had diabetes-related amputations. Research has shown, however, that the development of a foot ulcer is preventable.  

Anyone who has diabetes can develop a foot ulcer. If the body cannot heal properly, it can lead to an increased risk of infection. High levels of blood sugar can reduce the body’s ability to fight off infections and slow healing. 

As a result, it’s imperative to control blood sugar levels and have your feet checked regularly. 

Take Care of Your Feet, We Can Help

For individuals living with diabetes, foot care is an integral part of their health. It’s an essential component as having diabetes can impact the feet severely. 

Because the feet are used consistently, the risk of infection upon injury is high. For diabetic people any wound is of concern, therefore taking care of the feet to avoid neuropathy is crucial. 

Today’s podiatrist plays a key role in helping patients manage diabetes successfully and avoid foot-related complications.

Here at the Foot & Ankle Specialists of Illinois, we can help you manage a number of Diabetic related foot and ankle conditions. We have a number of services to help treat these conditions including cast fittings to help with off-loading foot pressure, vascular testing, and more. Book an appointment today.