Diabetic Foot Care
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (U.S. CDC) estimates that over 29 million people living in the U.S.—roughly 9% of the total population—have diabetes. Further, roughly 86 million more individuals have the precursor to the condition – prediabetes.
Those numbers clearly indicate that diabetes is already a major health issue here in the United States, and one that has the potential to become significantly worse. There is a strong link between this particular disease and foot health, so understanding diabetic foot care is rather important, especially for diabetic individuals.
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a medical condition that adversely affects the body’s ability to either produce insulin in sufficient quantities or allow cells to properly respond to insulin. Insulin is an essential hormone responsible for regulating glucose levels in the bloodstream. When the body is unable to produce enough insulin or cells are resistant to it, blood sugar levels become elevated, which causes serious, long-term complications.
How does Diabetes Affect Feet?
Two associated issues are frequently found with cases of diabetes that play a major, serious role in the health of feet. The first is peripheral arterial disease (PAD). Feet are the furthest points on the body from your heart, so blood already has a longer path to travel than it does to the rest of your body. The reduced circulation that often accompanies diabetes makes it even harder for the lower limbs to receive adequate levels of the nourishment they need.
The other diabetic issue that typically affects the lower body is neuropathy (damaged nerves). When the peripheral nerves are damaged in a case of diabetic neuropathy, you may be unable to feel physical sensations like pain or extreme temperatures. This means you could potentially sustain a cut or burn, and then not provide necessary care for the injury, since are simply unaware that it ever happened. This condition drastically increases the potential for greater issues to develop.
What is Diabetic Foot Care?
To help reduce the risk of critical medical situations arising from this disease, you must practice smart foot care habits, including:
- Daily Foot Inspections – Since neuropathy can take away your ability to feel if something is wrong or has happened, you must inspect your toes and feet every day. This inspection has to be thorough and include the tops, bottoms, and areas between the toes.
- Proper Hygiene Practices – To lower the risk of fungal, bacterial, and viral infections—which your body has a compromised ability to fight off—it is important to wash feet completely with warm (not hot) water and mild soap every day.
- Careful Nail Trimming – In order to prevent ingrown toenails, which could potentially increase the threat of infection, toenails need to be trimmed straight across and clipped even with the edge of the toes.
- Foot Protection – Footwear should always be worn, even when indoors. Prior to putting on footwear, the insides of socks and shoes should first be inspected to ensure there isn’t anything inside them that could possibly damage your feet.
- Regularly-Scheduled Foot Exams – Appointments with our podiatrist, Dr. Thomas D. Truong, at Kansas Foot Center on a regular basis are a key component for preventing complications that can arise.
Why is Diabetic Foot Care Important?
A comprehensive yet easy to follow foot care plan is essential for preventing issues from happening in the first place. (Our doctors can help you create one if you don’t already have a plan.) Additionally, early detection of abnormalities and/or conditions will place you in the best position to receive treatment during their most treatable stages. Diabetes impairs the body’s immune system, so external help is often necessary.
The conditions of PAD and neuropathy can lead to serious health complications, particularly those that increase the risk of gangrene, which could possibly necessitate amputation in the lower body. Gangrene (tissue death) is a decomposition of body tissue that is irreversible and may require amputation to eliminate the problem from worsening.
Kansas Diabetic Foot Care
The Kansas Foot Center is firmly committed to the health and safety of all our patients, especially when diabetes is in the picture. Call us at (866) 222-5177 to find out how we can help care for your diabetic feet. You can also use our online form to schedule an appointment at our Wichita or Newton, Kansas offices today.