If you have diabetes, chances are that you already know this condition means much more than just having to “give up sugar.”
Diabetes damages blood vessels in all parts of the body, especially the feet. Your lower extremities may develop slow blood flow, which in turn causes neuropathy (nerve damage). And once you develop neuropathy, caring for your feet is vital in order to prevent serious consequences, like ulcers or even amputation.
At Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists, we are here to help you stay on top of your foot health and are able to address any conditions you may develop because of diabetes.
Understanding Diabetes and the Importance of Foot Care
As diabetes progresses, it can cause increased damage to nerves and the circulatory system that provides them support. Since the feet are farthest from the heart, they tend to feel these effects first.
Blood flow is already relatively slow in healthy legs and feet. But when you throw diabetes into the mix, blood flow can slow down even further. As a result, your body is less able to heal wounds, fight off infections, and repair damaged tissues.
Even a small cut has potential to fester, producing an infection that can reach the bone which may eventually need to be amputated in order to prevent further spreading.
As if this were not enough, uncontrolled blood sugar also acts as a toxin for nerve tissue, leading to phantom pain, tingling, and numbness in those lower extremities. In severe cases, you may be completely unable to feel a blister, cut, or even broken bone in your foot. And with no warning signals reaching your brain, it may take hours—or even days!—before you realize that something is wrong.
Indeed, nerve damage caused by peripheral neuropathy can rob you of protective skin sensations, while circulation problems and high blood sugar can interfere with effective healing—a truly dangerous combination.
That’s why if you have diabetes, you should protect your feet with daily foot checks, smart choices in socks and shoes, and regular comprehensive foot exams at our Austin office at least once per year (or more, depending on the severity of your condition).
Doing so could save your feet. And they are recommended for everyone with diabetes, even those of you who, thankfully, haven’t suffered nerve damage.
Prevention Starts at Home
First and foremost, feet must be checked on a daily basis. And if you are ever concerned about something, then you should contact our office immediately; do not wait to seek treatment. Delaying treatment only leaves room for more serious conditions to develop.
Expanding on that, we have more proper foot care tips for you to follow:
- Keep feet clean and dry. After every wash, make sure to dry thoroughly between your toes.
- Wear comfortable shoes and do not wear the same pair every day. Look for roomy toe boxes and shoes that do not pinch, rub, or cause pressure.
- Always wear clean, dry socks without tears or irritating seams. Opt for socks made of thin cotton material that is absorbent and helps keep your feet dry.
- Avoid leaving feet exposed or unprotected. Sleep in loose socks, don’t wear flip flops or sandals, and never go barefoot—even at home.
- Never expose feet to heat or high water temperatures. Burns can occur due to loss of feeling.
- Carefully trim toenails straight across. Do not cut your toenails in an arched shape.
- Do not use over-the-counter foot products such as antiseptic solutions, plasters, tapes, or anything sticky. These can damage the skin and lead to wounds.
- Use moisturizer to keep skin supple. Avoid those areas between your toes.
- Do not treat corns or calluses at home. Come visit our office instead.
It is worth emphasizing the importance of seeking regular podiatric care when you have diabetes. This will prevent foot problems that can easily get out of control. And any foot concerns should be immediately addressed to avoid serious complications.
Expert Diabetic Foot Care at Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists
When you come visit our office, we will test you for any signs of issues, such as poor circulation or nerve function. We will also provide any regular maintenance care you may need, including toenail trimming, dealing with corns and calluses, and more.
We may also recommend diabetic shoes. Diabetic footwear is specially designed to reduce the risk of cuts and scrapes, provide extra depth and width to accommodate orthotic inserts, and minimize shear and shock forces on sensitive skin. Wearing diabetic footwear will help you avoid many of the common complications that can have lasting repercussions.
Whatever your needs, we are well equipped to help you manage your diabetes and prevent foot and ankle conditions from developing as a result of it. All you have to do is give us a call at (512) 328-8900, or simply fill out our handy request form online today.