Over 11 percent of the U.S. population is affected by diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
With the daily maintenance required to keep diabetes in check, like regularly monitoring your blood sugar, being conscious of the types of food you eat, and taking your medicine, diabetes comes with a lot of responsibilities. For instance, if you have diabetes and your blood sugar goes unchecked, increased levels could lead to a condition called diabetic neuropathy, or nerve damage.
Complications in Your Feet
Those suffering from nerve damage may experience symptoms such as pain or tingling. Others with more problematic cases of diabetic neuropathy may experience numbness or even no feeling in their feet at all. This is especially worrisome due to the importance of our feet and how often they are used. If a person cannot feel pain in their feet, they may not feel a cut or blister, making way for a potential infection. Poor blood circulation, another condition of diabetes, can also make it difficult for infections to heal properly.
When foot infections go untreated, doctors may take drastic measures to preserve the rest of the limb. This is why amputations are fairly common for people with serious diabetic conditions.
How Can I Keep My Feet Healthy?
When living with diabetes, it is extremely important to maintain healthy feet to ensure no problems arise. If you catch something early on, it is much easier to treat it. You can keep your feet healthy by:
- Checking Them Every Day - Take some time to check your feet for cuts, scrapes, blisters, sores, or discoloration.
- Thoroughly Washing Them - Keep your feet healthy by keeping them clean. Gently scrub your feet using warm water. After drying, you can apply lotion to the tops and bottom of your feet. Be sure not to lotion in between your toes, as moisture can easily collect in these areas and cause infection.
- Wearing Fitting Shoes - Never go barefoot and always wear socks with shoes that fit. Loose shoes may be vulnerable to an errant stone or pebble, while tight shoes may restrict blood flow even further.
- Keeping the Feet Moving - Allowing your feet to stay active promotes blood circulation! Take a walk, ride a bicycle, or go dancing!
Knowing When to See a Doctor
Any unusual signs or symptoms that seem out of the norm should be reason enough to contact a physician immediately and not be brushed off as temporary ailments. You should contact your doctor if you experience any of the following foot abnormalities:
- Loss of Feeling
- Cuts, Scrapes, Blisters
- Thick or Ingrown Toenails
- Dry or Cracked Skin - If skin becomes too dry, it can crack. When skin on the feet crack, bacteria can easily make its way in and cause infection.
- Change in Shape - Especially in cases where your feet no longer have feeling, changes in the shape of your feet could be due to swelling from infection. Your foot may be hot to the touch, but you would never know!
- Change of Color - If you notice a change in the color of your feet, this could mean they are not getting sufficient blood flow.
Following the foot care tips previously mentioned, like regularly checking and washing your feet, are great ways to stay ahead of any potential issues and prevent them from occurring. However, prevention is not always guaranteed.
The moment you notice something out of the ordinary, do not try to correct it yourself as it could prolong or worsen your condition. Seek out your foot physician immediately.
Your Trusted New York Podiatrist
At New York Foot Center, our podiatrist works one-on-one with patients suffering from various foot issues, including diabetic neuropathy. Through a comprehensive examination and knowledge of your medical history, we can formulate a treatment plan that is specific to your needs and long-term goals. Find out more about how we can provide for you!
Call the New York Foot Center today at (917) 809-6318 or visit us online to schedule your appointment.