June 20, 2024

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Diabetic Feet: Problems, Symptoms, and Care

Diabetes is a health condition wherein the body doesn’t produce enough insulin to regulate its glucose levels, causing sugar in the blood to rise higher than normal. When this happens, you may be at risk of serious complications, including foot problems. Because of this, diabetic foot care is crucial.

Besides causing pain and discomfort, diabetic foot problems may also lead to more severe conditions if left untreated for a long time. So, if you have diabetes or have a family history of the disease, it’s best to learn more about potential foot health issues and how to prevent them. 

Common Diabetic Foot Problems

There are many foot conditions you are at risk of developing when you have diabetic feet. Some of these include diabetic neuropathy and peripheral vascular disease. Here’s what you should know: 

1. Diabetic Neuropathy

High blood sugar levels can damage your nerves. So, if you have diabetes, you are more likely to develop diabetic neuropathy. This type of nerve damage usually affects the legs and feet and causes pain and tingling sensations. In worst-case scenarios, some people may lose all feeling in their feet.

Since pain is a sign that something is wrong with your body, numbness in your feet prevents you from discovering any cuts, scrapes, or sores that need immediate attention. If these wounds aren’t treated right away, they might worsen and become infected. Some examples of foot problems caused by diabetic neuropathy include:

  • Blisters – One cause of blisters are ill-fitting shoes. Since you have reduced feeling in your feet, you might not notice when your shoes aren’t a perfect fit, causing you to continue wearing them and develop blisters.
  • Charcot Foot – Although rare, Charcot foot can occur when you have nerve damage from diabetes. This usually happens when a sprained or fractured foot isn’t treated right away and is continually walked on, causing the weakening of your bones. As a result, you might suffer from foot deformities.

2. Peripheral Vascular Disease

This condition causes blocked or narrowed blood vessels, resulting in poor blood circulation in the legs and feet. So, any wounds or open sores on your feet will take longer to heal, putting you at risk of infections or more severe complications.

An infection that won’t heal may also lead to gangrene. This condition happens when the tissues on your feet decay because of a lack of blood flow. Some symptoms include skin discoloration and swelling. Severe cases of gangrene may lead to amputations, so consult an expert at the first sign of this foot problem.

Symptoms of Diabetic Foot Problems

There are several symptoms that may indicate you have foot issues. These may vary depending on a person’s condition, but some of the most common ones include swelling, numbness, and tingling sensations. Besides that, changes in skin color and temperature, and unusual odors also point to diabetic foot problems.

Tips on Diabetic Foot Care

To reduce the risks of various foot problems, it’s crucial for those with diabetes to practice proper foot health. Read on for some tips on taking care of diabetic feet.

  • Check Your Feet Daily – Since people with diabetes may suffer from numbness, inspecting your feet daily will help you identify any potential issues as early as possible. Check for any wounds, swelling, or changes in the color of skin and nails.
  • Never Walk Around Barefoot – Following this protects your feet from cuts or scrapes. Besides that, it’s also essential to wear well-fitting shoes to prevent blisters, corns, and calluses. There are also many benefits when you wear diabetic socks
  • Cut Your Toenails Properly – Always trim your toenails straight across with a nail clipper. Never mimic the shape of your nails, as doing so may cause ingrown toenails, which you’re more prone to if you have diabetes.
  • Wash Your Feet Everyday – Wash your feet with soap and warm water daily. Afterwards, make sure to dry your feet completely, especially between the toes, as any trapped moisture may cause an infection.

Reach Out to a Podiatrist

Learning about potential foot problems and their symptoms is helpful if you have diabetes. Besides familiarizing yourself with certain signs and symptoms, you can also start with diabetic foot care as early as possible. If you notice any sign of foot problems or need more help in taking care of your feet, consult a trusted podiatrist near you.