If you have diabetes, you have a higher risk of developing high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and of losing your vision, among other potential health issues. In fact, you need a whole team of healthcare professionals to help you reach and maintain optimal health. Many people don’t realize they need a podiatrist on their diabetes care team, though.
Dr. Michael Tran and the staff at AllCare Foot & Ankle Center are experts in providing the specific care that people with diabetes need. We also take pride in helping our patients understand how diabetes can affect their feet so that they can take necessary precautions to protect the health of their feet.
The risk to your feet
When you have diabetes, your body can’t produce a sufficient amount of insulin to regulate the amount of glucose in your bloodstream. In some cases, your body may produce enough insulin, but your cells resist it. Diabetes affects how your body nourishes the organs and cells in your entire body.
Glucose is another name for sugar, and when you don’t have enough insulin or your body doesn’t use insulin efficiently, glucose builds up in your blood. You can develop circulatory problems as a result, especially in the areas of your body far from your heart, where both gravity and distance impact your blood flow -- like in your feet.
When the blood doesn’t flow to your feet well, you can develop nerve damage. This specific type of nerve damage is called peripheral neuropathy, and about half of all people with diabetes have it.
Symptoms of peripheral neuropathy
Having diabetes doesn’t automatically mean you’ll develop peripheral neuropathy, and knowing what the earliest symptoms are may help you avoid it. Earlier care leads to better outcomes. Some of the common early symptoms include:
- Pain or tingling in your feet
- Wounds that either don’t heal or take a very long time to heal
- Swollen feet
- Poor balance or coordination
- A change in your gait (the way you walk)
- Loss of muscle tone
If you notice any of these signs, schedule an appointment at AllCare Foot & Ankle Center right away. Peripheral neuropathy can have serious consequences, including amputation, if it’s not treated.
Prevention is the key to protecting your feet when you have diabetes. The most important thing you can do is work to regulate your blood sugar through diet, exercise, and taking your medication as directed. Working with your primary health team is crucial in creating and following a plan to keep your blood sugar regulated.
Other important ways to protect your feet include:
- Inspect your feet daily for sores, cuts, or other wounds
- Wash and dry your feet each day, taking care to get between your toes
- Wear properly fitting, comfortable shoes
- Use custom orthotics if recommended
- Trim your toenails straight across
Although you can be proactive in caring for your feet, you should also visit a highly qualified podiatrist regularly as well. The experts at AllCare Foot & Ankle Center are ready to assist you and join your fight to protect the health of your feet. Schedule an appointment today to learn more.