Diabetes and its Effects on Foot Health

by | Apr 25, 2016 | Diabetic Foot Care

The Kansas Foot Center takes pride in providing first-class podiatric services for our patients, but one of the most rewarding experiences is helping individuals with diabetes avoid serious medical conditions through smart diabetic foot care practices. Let’s take a look at how diabetes affects foot health so you can see why it’s important to give feet extra care and attention.

To provide some background, insulin is a hormone that enables sugar to enter the body’s cells and be used for energy. When an individual has diabetes, either the body does not produce enough insulin or cells do not respond correctly to the hormone. (In some cases, both situations exist concurrently.) This leads to elevated levels of glucose (sugar) in the blood stream.

The disease can affect feet in several ways, including:

  • Diabetic neuropathy. Excess glucose in the blood can cause nerve damage (neuropathy). This is particularly concerning for feet because A) they are often covered by footwear, B) they sustain tremendous amounts of pressure that can cause damage, and C) they have a high risk for fungal and bacterial infections. With neuropathy, an affected individual may be unaware that a problem is present and needs to be addressed.
  • Peripheral arterial disease. In addition to impaired sensations, peripheral arterial disease (diminished circulation) can be present. This results in body tissues (bone, muscles, etc.) not receiving the appropriate levels of nourishment that they need. Weakened bones, in particular, increase the risk of Charcot foot (severe foot deformity).
  • Impaired immune functions. Diabetes affects the body’s ability to heal wounds in a timely manner. What this means for feet is that any cuts, scrapes, or other issues that arise take longer to heal. During the extended period, the body is at heightened risk for infection. Given the body’s compromised immune function, it is unable to effectively fight off infection.
  • Foot ulcers. Any abnormal health issue can be concerning when you live with diabetes, but foot ulcers are one of the most serious. When soft tissue breaks down (ulceration), gangrene (tissue death) can eventually set in. There is no cure for gangrene and the only way to prevent its spread is to remove the dead tissue—sometimes requiring amputation.

The sad truth of the matter is that these diabetes effects can work together in various instances to create especially dangerous situations. The good news is that responsible diabetic foot care practices can help prevent that. Come see us at The Kansas Foot Center and our specialists will help you create a foot care plan to keep you safe and healthy. Call us at (866) 222-5177 or request an appointment with any of our Wichita, Newton, or Emporia, KS offices online today.