There has been a major increase in the number of Americans currently living with diabetes, and the diabetic population continues to grow. This means it is more important than ever to know how to best manage the disease. Our podiatrists at Foot & Ankle Associates of Florida want to help you prevent serious complications from developing and recognize what risk factors may involve your lower extremities. Remember, our podiatric staff is an important part of your entire healthcare team and we are committed to your wellbeing.
Diabetes and Feet
Diabetes is an autoimmune disease and poses a special risk to the lower limbs. The condition results from the body being unable to produce enough insulin, (the hormone responsible for managing glucose levels in your blood). This in turn results in an increased risk of various health complications like kidney failure, heart disease, blindness, and loss of limb.
This condition can also dull the peripheral nerves and impair blood circulation, especially in the feet (which are the body’s farthest points from the head and heart). With increased numbness, there may be difficulty in detecting scrapes, cuts, and other injuries. Diabetes also affects your body’s ability to effectively heal itself and fight off infection. Left unnoticed or untreated, even minor injuries can develop into significant ulcers. It is absolutely essential to treat diabetic foot ulcers early. Left untreated, they could ultimately lead to an amputation.
At-Home Care and Inspection
One of the most important aspects of diabetic foot care is the attention you give your feet at home to catch issues early. Remember, you see your feet every day—your doctors don’t. Identifying problems at their earliest stages, and seeking help promptly, is essential in reducing the risk of serious medical complications.
Perform a thorough foot and toe assessment on a daily basis. If you have difficulty inspecting the bottom of your feet, use a mirror or enlist the help of a loved one. Contact our office if you find any scrapes, cuts, or skin and nail issues. Swelling, redness, and warmth are potential signs of infection and should be a signal to seek immediate medical care. It is better to be safe than sorry with a diabetic ulcer.
Protecting Your Feet
Keep your feet safe and protected by always wearing comfortable, supportive footwear that fit correctly. Make sure you check the insides of your shoes before putting them on. Any foreign objects inside could potentially damage the skin and increase the risk of infection. Although shoes offer protection, ill-fitting pairs can cause sores, blisters, corns, and other issues.
To lower your infection risk, keep your feet dry, clean, and protected as much as possible. Wash your lower limbs gently in warm water and dry thoroughly, including between the toes. Use a moisturizer designed for diabetic dry skin relief (but never use between the toes) to reduce dryness and keep cracks and fissures at bay.
Be careful when trimming toenails—always clip them straight across (not rounded), and not too short. Doing this will reduce the odds of developing an ingrown toenail, which can easily become infected or lead to fungal toenails.
Managing the Condition
Taking care of yourself and managing your diabetes will keep your circulation stronger and your nerves healthier, which in turn will help protect your feet. Keeping a close eye on your sugar levels, eating a well-balanced diet, giving up smoking, drinking alcohol in moderation, and getting regular exercise are essential practices for the whole body. At Foot & Ankle Associates of Florida we can evaluate your feet, recommend appropriate footwear, and outline an exercise routine to stretch and keep your lower limbs flexible.
Your Florida Partners in Diabetic Foot Care
Our offices provide a full range of diabetic foot care services, including diabetic toenail care, annual foot checks, wound care, corn and callus removal, custom orthotics, and much more. No matter if you have an ulcer in need of debridement, or you are simply looking for tips on selecting the right pair of diabetic shoes, the podiatrists and staff at Foot & Ankle Associates of Florida are ready to help.
If you find any problems during your daily foot inspection, including redness, swelling, blisters, itchiness, or any other abnormalities, contact us as soon as possible. Call 407-339-7759 or 352-589-9550 (if calling from Lake County) or request your appointment online today. For your convenience, we have offices in Altamonte Springs, Kissimmee, Tavares, Lake Mary, and Orlando, FL.
Remember, you don’t have to manage your diabetes on your own – we have a team of medical professionals who are here for you!