If you have diabetes, you’re monitoring your blood sugar level frequently, but it’s also important to take good care of your feet.
Diabetes damages your peripheral nervous system. If the damage is severe, you may not feel pain or hot or cold temperatures; this condition is called diabetic neuropathy. If you develop neuropathy, you may not feel a small cut on your foot or a blister developing on your toe. And without early treatment, what begins as something small can end up as a limb-threatening infection.
Diabetes also damages your circulatory system. As a result of high sugar levels, the blood flow to your feet may decrease to the point where your tissue dries out and your skin cracks, also opening you up to the risk of diabetic foot ulcers and serious infection. That’s why it’s important to have a foot care specialist as part of your treatment team. AllCare Foot and Ankle Center physicians are specialists in diabetic foot care.
A diabetic foot ulcer (DFU) is an open wound that usually occurs on the bottom of the foot. The condition is fairly common, occurring in approximately 15 percent of adults with diabetes. About 6 percent of that group develop a complication that results in being hospitalized.
Research confirms that, just as with other health conditions, early treatment of DFUs is critical for proper healing. If you notice a cut on your foot or seem to be getting a blister, it’s time for a visit to your physician at AllCare Foot and Ankle Center.
If you visit when you notice a small issue, you’ll avoid the symptoms associated with a full-on diabetic foot ulcer: swelling, pain, redness, a warm feeling in your foot, red streaks on your foot, discharge from the wound, and/or fever and chills. Early treatment also limits the prospects of future hospitalization.
Having a diabetic foot ulcer places you at increased risk for a diabetes-related amputation. About 14-24 percent of diabetics who have a foot ulcer will need an amputation.
Some studies suggest that inflammation from diabetic foot ulcers may also trigger end-stage renal disease. If you wait until the ulcer is severe, these studies show poor clinical outcomes.
Even though DFUs are somewhat common, they’re a painful condition that limits walking, adds to health care costs, and is linked to higher incidences of mortality.
You may think that after successful treatment for a diabetic foot ulcer, you’re out of the woods. However, you need to be extra vigilant in caring for your feet if you’ve had even one ulcer. Research shows that about 40 percent of diabetics sustain a new ulcer within a year, either at the same site as before or at a new one. Researchers therefore conclude that having a diabetic foot ulcer is akin to a malignancy. After your foot ulcer has healed, you should be considered in remission and have the same type of sustained follow-up care as a cancer patient.
Diabetic foot ulcers can be prevented with proper diabetic foot care. Your AllCare Foot and Ankle Center physician will take the time to explain what you need to do to avoid them and indicate when you should seek treatment. The first step, which you perform at home, is inspecting your feet every day.
Call AllCare Foot and Ankle Center or book an appointment through our online portal for expert diabetic foot care and all of your foot and ankle needs.