When it comes to diabetes, you have a lot on your plate, such as managing your glucose, following your diet, and exercising. You may also be keeping follow up appointments with more than one doctor to manage your diabetes. But are one of those doctors your podiatrist? Whether or not diabetes is new to you, your podiatrist is an important resource in the management and care of your feet when it comes to managing your diabetes. Believe it or not, the number one reason diabetic people are hospitalized has to do with their feet! Foot wounds, ulcers, and infections due to poor diabetic management of your feet can land you in the hospital, which can lead to long bouts of hospitalization, therapy, infection, or possibly even amputation.
Why does diabetes wreck such havoc on your feet? Your body is making too much glucose which in turn can damage your nerves and cause nerve damage and poor circulation to your feet. When nerve damage occurs, you begin to lose feeling in your feet. It may begin as tingling or burning sensations in your feet which will eventually lead to numbness of the foot, often referred to as diabetic neuropathy. Diabetic neuropathy is the end result of damaged nerve cells, which most often happens in the legs and feet in diabetic people. When you cannot feel your feet, you may not notice a tiny cut or skin changes that occur due to poor blood circulation that also occurs in people with diabetes. What tends to happen when these cuts, wounds, and skin changes go unnoticed is they become bigger and they become infected. Infection can lead to cellulitis, gangrene, ulcers, and loss of toes or the entire foot due to the need to amputate.
While you cannot control whether or not you feel your feet, you do still have control!! Start by controlling your blood sugar, following all recommended diets, and exercising. Always check your feet!! Use a mirror or ask someone to look at the bottoms of your feet everyday!!! Once you notice changes or abrasions to your skin, see your podiatrist as soon as possible. It us much easier to handle a small problem sooner while it is small. Diabetic people have a harder time healing wounds and cuts, so thinking it will heal itself because it is small is just not true. If you are not able to move much and spend lot of time sitting or lying down, you need to readjust your feet so pressure does not build up under one spot. This can lead to foot ulcers, which are treatable, but difficult to manage alone. It is always important to wear proper fitting shoes so that your feet do not rub the insides of the shoes and create tears to the skin of your feet. Wearing shoes inside and outside is always important because it helps prevent you from stepping on small rocks or glass that you would not otherwise feel.
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