Diabetes and Foot Problems

Diabetes is a serious disorder that can have far-reaching effects across the body in a variety of unpleasant ways.  That additional glucose in the blood over a long period can create serious complications for the feet in particular, and special care needs to be taken for diabetics in terms of taking good care of their feet.  Here are some of the foot problems that can result from diabetes.

Neuropathy

Diabetes can damage nerves, and this usually manifests itself most commonly in extremities like the feet and legs.  This nerve damage can completely deaden the feeling of touch causing cold, heat, and pain to not register at all.  This is called “sensory diabetic neuropathy.”  This lack of feeling can result in muscles not working properly, or poor alignment due to the patient not feeling the pain of incorrect positioning.  One of the bigger concerns with neuropathy is that serious injury will occur and not be felt, allowing a major infection to take hold.  For someone with neuropathy the feet and legs should always be protected and toenails should be trimmed by another person as lack of feeling may result in the cutting of skin as well as the nails.

Poor Blood Flow

Poor circulation is also a result of diabetes as it can cause blood vessels in the foot and leg to narrow and harden.  This can severely hamper the body’s efforts to heal and fight off infection.  Lack of blood flow, combined with neuropathy can make healing from infections and ulcers a great deal more difficult.  This can potentially result in amputation so the feet and legs should be inspected for any sign of problems and if any are detected a medical professional should be alerted immediately.

Other Problems

It’s estimated that 10% of people with diabetes will develop foot ulcers.  These are a major problem, and like the other two above, can lead to infections if neglected.  Calluses build up more often and more rapidly on the feet of diabetics – this may require therapeutic inserts or shoes as well as removal of the calluses.  Also, the skin may change color or become so dry that it starts to crack.  If this occurs do not use oils or creams but attempt to seal moisture after bathing with a thin coat of petroleum jelly.

Diabetes can have significant implications for foot health.  If you or someone you know has diabetes-related foot ailments, please contact Sheldon H. Nadal D.P.M. for information and options that can help with any issues you may have.