Anyone with diabetes understands the trouble that disease can cause your feet. Not only does diabetes reduce blood flow to your feet, it can also cause diabetic nerve damage called neuropathy. Diabetic neuropathy can cause damage to the nerves to such an extent that your feet will become numb and you will no longer feel sensations in your feet such as cuts and blisters. When that happens, you may get sores and infections that you will not notice. If they become infected it may lead to amputation of your toes, feet or even your legs. It is a known fact that having a portion of your foot or leg removed is 10 times more likely if you have diabetes.
A number of years ago, my uncle died after having portions of both legs amputated due to complications from diabetes. My father was diagnosed with diabetes in the 1980s, and for quite some time he has faithfully followed a proper foot care regimen. One of the most important steps he has taken is to visit a podiatrist every three months unless something occurs where he has to go in more frequently for follow-up or treatments. Several times over the years, the podiatrist and his staff have quickly and ably handled problems that could have led to serious complications such as diabetic neuropathy and possibly amputation.
Diabetic foot care
Diabetes can reduce the flow of blood to the feet causing nerve damage and numbness. Developing healthy foot care habits can make a big difference in the successful management of diabetes and in preventing such complications as foot pain, bunions, ingrown toenails, bone spurs, foot swelling, diabetic ulcers and more.
Early detection of diabetic foot problems can greatly decrease the likelihood of further complications, including the development of diabetic neuropathy, numbness, and the possibility of loss of limbs. Checking your feet on a daily basis either first thing in the morning or when you go to bed at night gives you a great opportunity to notice symptoms before they turn into serious foot problems.
Signs to watch for include:
- Burning or tingling sensation in your foot
Steps you can take to help prevent diabetic neuropathy include:
- Keep your blood sugar under control
- Check your legs and feet daily
- Have regular check-ups with a podiatrist or carefully care for your own feet
- Apply foot cream to dry feet
- Wear properly fitted footwear indoors and outdoors at all times
Keep in regular contact with your primary care physician. If at all possible, see a podiatrist on a regular basis for optimal diabetes foot care. A good podiatrist will often provide a whirlpool or foot spa regimen as part of your routine visit to help with blood circulation. He or she will also cut your toe nails; check your feet for possible problems such as ingrown toe nails, bunions and calluses, and other foot problems. A good foot specialist can literally save your feet and legs from becoming infected to the point where you may need amputation due to neuropathy.
Foot care basics for seniors, especially those with diabetes, begins with managing your blood sugar levels, keeping regular appointments with your primary care physician and your foot specialist for diabetes foot care, and keeping your own watchful eye on any possible foot problems that may occur diabetic neuropathy.