Podiatrist Toronto, ON Sheldon H. Nadal D.P.M.
586 Eglinton Avenue E. Suite 501 Toronto, Ontario M4P1P2
Local: 416-486-9917 Toll free: (877) 456-3338

Will You Need Foot Surgery if you Have Diabetes?

Need Foot Surgery

Diabetes is often associated with foot problems, primarily because it can cause peripheral neuropathy or nerve damage in the extremities (hands and feet). If not effectively managed, diabetes can escalate quickly, causing foot complications that might need surgery.

When well-managed, however, it is possible to avoid diabetic foot surgery altogether, although this is not always the case.

This article highlights the foot complications diabetes can cause, when diabetes foot surgery is necessary, and how to avoid it.

Remember to consult your podiatrist for more information on the topics covered here.

Diabetes Foot Complications

Diabetes foot complications can occur when diabetes is not effectively managed. In many cases, common problems worsen and cause significant complications. The primary cause of diabetes foot complications is nerve and blood vessel damage, which makes it challenging to notice simple issues like a cut, an ulcer, or a bruise and prevents them from healing quickly.

Once nerve and blood vessel damage begins, these are some of the complications that can develop:

Calluses – Calluses develop faster in people with diabetes due to increased pressure under the feet. A lack of sensation can also make it challenging to notice developing calluses.

Foot ulcers – People with diabetes frequently get foot ulcers under the ball of the foot or the big toe. Ulcers are especially risky because they can lead to infection.

Amputation – Amputations are more prevalent in people with diabetes due to infections that spread to the bone. Nerve damage and peripheral arterial disease (PAD) are the leading causes of infection-related amputations.

When is Foot Surgery Necessary?

If a person with diabetes gets a foot infection, perhaps through an ulcer or a cut, surgery may be necessary under two circumstances:

Tissue infection: If the infection has spread to the surrounding tissues, the podiatric surgeon can opt to cut away the infected tissue and then allow the wound to heal.

Bone infection: If the infection has spread to the bone, the podiatric surgeon may try and save the limb by sectioning the bone, but in some cases, an amputation may be necessary. In Ontario, podiatrists do not perform amputation.

In both instances, foot surgery is required to prevent the infection from spreading further, which, if left unattended, can lead to gangrene and sepsis (blood infection), a potentially fatal condition.

How to Avoid Diabetes Foot Surgery

If you have diabetes, you may not need to get foot surgery. However, it will depend on how well you take care of your feet.

Here are the best ways to take care of your feet and avoid foot surgery:

  • Wash your feet with soap and water thoroughly daily.
  • Dry them with a clean, dry towel making sure to dry them between the toes.
  • Apply moisturizer generously. Avoid wearing closed shoes or socks for at least thirty minutes if you apply between your toes.
  • Trim your nails often but trim them straight across and avoid digging into the corners. You can gently file down the corners.
  • Check your feet daily for corns, sores, blisters, cuts, or bruises. If you find any, alert your podiatrist immediately.
  • Always check your shoes for small rocks or other small objects before wearing them.

Following these steps can help reduce the risk of needing foot surgery for diabetes.

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