Diabetes and Your Feet
Diabetes is a lifelong chronic disease that is caused by high levels of sugar in the blood. It can also decrease your body's ability to fight off infections, which is especially harmful in your feet. When diabetes is not properly controlled, damage can occur to the organs and impairment of the immune system is also likely to occur.
With damage to your nervous system, you may not be able to feel your feet properly. Normal sweat secretion and oil production that lubricates the skin of the foot is impaired, which can lead to an abnormal pressure on the skin, bones, and joints of the foot during walking and other activities. This can even lead to the breakdown of the skin of the foot, which often causes sores to develop. If you have diabetes, it is important to prevent foot problems before they occur, recognize problems early, and seek the right treatment when a problem does happen.
Diabetic Complications and Your Feet
When it comes to your feet, there are several risk factors that can increase your chances of developing foot problems and diabetic infections in the legs and feet. First of all, poorly fitting shoes are one of the biggest culprits of diabetic foot complications. If you have red spots, sore spots, blisters, corns, calluses, or consistent pain associated with wearing shoes, new proper fitted shoes must be obtained immediately. Additionally, if you have common foot abnormalities such as flat feet, bunions, or hammertoes, prescription shoes or orthotics from your podiatrist may be necessary to further protect your feet from other damage.
People who have long-standing or poorly controlled diabetes are also at risk for damage to the nerves in their feet — known in the medical community as peripheral neuropathy. If you have nerve damage, you may not be able to feel your feet normally and you may be unable to sense the position of your feet and toes while walking and balancing, which can cause even more harm to your feet.
Normal nerves allow people to sense if their shoes are too tight or if their shoes are rubbing on the feet too much. With diabetes, you may not be able to properly sense minor injuries, such as cuts, scrapes and blisters-all signs of abnormal wear, tear, and foot strain. Poor circulation, trauma to the foot, infections and smoking can also compromise the health of your feet.
A Simple, Annual Test Could Save Your Feet — Maybe Even Your Life
Diabetes can be extremely dangerous to your feet, and to your life, so take precautions to safeguard your health. One of the most important things you can do to prevent losing a toe, foot or leg is to schedule an annual Comprehensive Diabetic Foot Exam. It's a simple, painless exam. If you haven't had your diabetic foot exam yet this year, please give us a call at 804-320-FOOT (804-320-3668) to schedule your appointment.
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