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Foot Problems Caused by Diabetes

Diabetes is a leading cause of chronic illness and death in America. The Center for Disease Control reported in 2014, that almost 30-million persons have diabetes and another eight million have it, but don’t know it. Those are astonishing numbers. Diabetes takes a toll on almost every system in the body and the costs to care for people affected by it grow every year.

Foot problems are extremely common in diabetics. The specialists at Orthopeadic & Spine Center (OSC) treat these patients often because the bones, nerves and muscles of their feet are often affected by diabetes, causing pain or disability.

Diabetes tends to damage nerves quickly. Often a person will report tingling, numbness or burning in their feet before they are diagnosed with diabetes. This is known as peripheral neuropathy.  It can progress to the point that the diabetic can’t feel their feet at all. When your sense of feeling is impaired, small injuries go unnoticed. They can’t tell if they have stubbed a toe, cut their foot, broken a bone or if the water is too hot in the bathtub. Diabetics don’t get normal feedback to the brain from the nerves in their feet.

Circulation problems, (aka vascular disease) are known to occur when peripheral neuropathy is present. This gives the diabetic person a double-whammy of trouble, because if they do injure their foot, they tend to heal poorly, due to the lack of nutrient rich blood flow to the feet. Waste products associated with healing will also not be carried away efficiently. Infection can easily set in and because of the impaired circulation, take weeks, months or years to heal, if they ever heal.  Intensive wound care clinics and hyperbaric chambers are often the last resort treatment options. Sadly, that is why some diabetics will need to have amputations to toes, parts or all of their foot, due to unhealed ulcers or injuries.

Injury prevention and good foot care are key to someone with diabetes.  Here are some general foot care guidelines:

  1. Wear well-fitting shoes that provide support.
  2. Inspect your feet twice daily for bruises, cuts or injuries. You might not have felt the injury at the time it occurred.
  3. Get regular toenail trims and foot care from a certified diabetic manicurist.
  4. Dry feet carefully and thoroughly after bathing.  Keep feet dry and avoid lotions between the toes.
  5. Inform your PCP if you find an injury or develop a blister.  You may need to be seen for appropriate treatment.
  6. Never use a heating pad or hot water bottle or on your feet.
  7. Exercise gently with swimming, yoga or walking to increase circulation, muscle tone, and for over-all health.
Source: Daily Press

By: Orthopeadic & Spine Center (OSC); Feb. 2017

 

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