If you have diabetes, you no doubt know that it’s a disease that elevates your blood sugar levels.
Normally, the beta cells in the pancreas produce the hormone insulin to break down sugar into usable energy. Type 1 diabetes occurs because your pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin. Type 2 occurs because your cells become resistant to insulin’s effects.
Either way, the disease can seriously affect your overall health, and that includes your feet.
At Chicagoland Foot and Ankle, our board-certified podiatrists understand how difficult it is to live with diabetes, which is why we offer diabetic foot care for our patients in and around the Chicago area.
If you’re diabetic, you may not be aware of how your feet are affected, so we’re taking this opportunity to give you the information you need.
Your feet with diabetes
The high blood sugar levels of diabetes can lead to a number of other health conditions, including poor circulation, a weakened immune system, and peripheral neuropathy, impaired nerve function in the extremities characterized by tingling, burning, numbness, and pain.
Your feet become more susceptible to injury because not only does neuropathy impair sensation, but poor circulation leads to even more loss of sensation. If you stub your toe, get a scrape, or have an ingrown toenail, you may not be aware there’s a problem before it becomes ulcerated and infected.
Foot wounds are the most prevalent diabetes-related cause for hospitalization. They’re also often a precursor to amputation — more than 80% of diabetes-related amputations begin with a foot ulcer that won’t heal.
And diabetics have a thirtyfold higher risk over their lifetime of having a lower extremity amputated than those without diabetes.
Other foot-related problems exacerbated by diabetes include:
- Athlete’s foot
- Ingrown toenails
Treating the underlying condition can help relieve these problems.
Diagnosis and treatment of diabetic foot problems
Here at Chicagoland Foot and Ankle, we take a comprehensive approach to evaluating and diagnosing your diabetes-related foot problems. We take a complete medical history, note all your symptoms, examine your feet and toes, and perform neurologic and vascular evaluations.
We might also order blood tests, X-rays, and/or nerve conduction tests to diagnose the cause of the specific foot issues you’re having.
Depending on the results of our evaluation, we might recommend diabetic shoes and insoles. These reduce the risk of chafing, sores, and wounds. Extra-depth shoes with a wide toe box also prevent your feet from getting pinched or rubbed.
If you have a lower leg or foot ulcer, we remove any damaged tissue, and we may prescribe oral or topical antibiotics, dressings, and bandages.
Paying extra attention to your foot care
Preventing problems from developing is always better than treating them after the fact. Here are a number of things you can do to prevent foot problems from happening:
- Check your feet every day for redness, swelling, blisters, cuts, or nail problems
- Wash your feet using lukewarm water and a soft cloth or sponge
- Dry your feet gently: blot and pat, and dry between your toes
- Moisturize your feet to prevent itching and cracking; don’t moisturize between toes, which can lead to athlete’s foot
- Cut toenails straight across and file the edges; cutting too short could lead to ingrown nails
- Always wear clean, dry socks
- Look for diabetic socks higher than the ankle with extra cushioning, no elastic tops, and moisture-repelling fibers
- Inspect your shoes before wearing to ensure there’s no foreign object inside
- Never walk barefoot
Never treat corns, calluses, or blisters yourself; make an appointment with us for proper treatment. And schedule periodic foot exams to prevent complications from developing.
If you have diabetes, you need a foot and ankle specialist in your corner to ensure your feet remain problem-free. To schedule an appointment with one of our board-certified foot and ankle specialists, give us a call at any of our locations, or book online today.
We have offices in the Mount Greenwood and Portage Park areas of Chicago, as well as Orland Park and New Lenox, Illinois.