Poorly controlled diabetes can lead to complications such as nerve damage and poor circulation in the extremities. As a result, people with diabetes are at risk of suffering a wide range of foot problems—including some that are severe enough to require amputation. Even if you have diabetes, disabling podiatric issues don’t have to be part of your future. Tightly controlling your blood sugar levels, along with diligent daily foot care, regular visits with a skilled podiatrist, and prompt professional treatment for injuries and other concerns all help protect your feet.
Here’s what you should know about diabetes and foot problem risks and how Yavapai Foot and Ankle Center’s experienced podiatrist, Dr. John (Todd) Cox, DPM, provides the complete care necessary to keep them healthy.
Understanding Diabetes and Foot Problem Risks
Diabetes is a group of metabolic disorders that affects the body’s ability to convert food into energy. Here’s how: most of the food you eat gets turned into sugar (glucose) inside your body. Insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas, directs the glucose into various cells, where it’s used as fuel.
All forms of diabetes disrupt this process. People with type 1 diabetes produce little to no insulin, while people with type 2 diabetes produce less insulin than they should and have receptors that don’t know how to use the insulin they make effectively. Without sufficient insulin to direct the glucose into cells—or receptors capable of taking this direction—excess glucose builds up in the bloodstream.
Over time, high glucose levels can damage various organs and systems, leading to complications like peripheral nerve damage and circulation issues. Because your feet are furthest from your heart, they’re particularly at risk.
Stomping Out Diabetic Foot Problems
If peripheral nerve damage affects your ability to feel your feet, simple and common podiatric issues—such as cuts, blisters, or ingrown toenails—quickly become much more serious, sometimes before they’re even noticed.
People with diabetes who are also suffering from circulation problems have double cause for concern. Poor circulation slows the healing process, making it even more challenging for the body to repair damaged tissues and fight off infection. When poor circulation and nerve damage cause tissue death, gangrene can result, potentially necessitating an amputation to prevent the life-threatening infection from spreading.
Here’s What You Can Do to Help Your Feet
Fortunately, thorough and conscientious foot care can help people with diabetes protect their feet and avoid amputation.
- Check your feet for cuts, blisters, calluses, discoloration, or other issues every day—even if you don’t feel a problem
- Wash your feet daily using warm water and gentle soap, then pat them dry with a soft, clean towel
- Apply a quality lotion or moisturizer to your feet each day to keep them soft and supple—however, avoid applying cream between the toes, as the extra moisture may invite infection
- Avoid going barefoot; wear comfortable socks with non-binding tops and shoes with adequate support and cushioning
- Trim toenails straight across, rather than rounding the edges, or have your podiatrist do it for you to prevent ingrown toenails and associated infections
- Have a podiatric professional remove dead skin, corns, and calluses rather than trying to remove them yourself
- Schedule an appointment with our highly skilled podiatrist, Dr. Cox, at the first sign of foot problems
How Our Skilled North Central Arizona Podiatrist Can Help
Yavapai Foot and Ankle Center’s knowledgeable foot specialist has extensive experience treating patients with diabetes and helping them protect their feet from complications. With a heavy focus on preventive methods and conservative therapies, Dr. Cox helps diabetic patients catch foot problems early before they become serious or life-threatening.
In addition to providing adept treatment for urgent issues, our Prescott, Arizona, podiatric practice offers exceptional routine care for diabetic patients in the Quad Cities area. Find out what we can do for your feet! Contact us today.