Diabetes, a disease involving too much glucose (sugar) in the bloodstream, can unfortunately cause many serious complications with patients’ feet. Studies show that about 30% of diabetics older than 40 eventually develop foot problems. The two main issues that diabetics experience are diabetic neuropathy and peripheral vascular disease.
Diabetic Neuropathy occurs from chronically uncontrolled diabetes, which causes nerve damage. Nerves are the wiring of our bodies and transmit information to and from the brain and the rest of the body. A result of nerve damage is loss of feeling, particularly in the legs and feet. An additional concern is that, due to the loss of feeling, the patient might not feel it when they get a cut or sore on his/her foot. If left untreated, either is vulnerable to infection. Diabetic Neuropathy can also cause burning, tingling, and/or stabbing pain sensations in addition to the numbness, which can be debilitating.
Peripheral Vascular Disease
Peripheral vascular disease refers to a complication wherein blood flow to the extremities (arms, legs, and feet) is compromised and weakened. Not only is this a painful condition, it will also make the healing of cuts or sores especially difficult for the diabetic patient, and can lead to even more serious complications such as gangrene.
Gangrene occurs when tissues die due to loss of blood flow. If gangrene cannot be contained, amputation may be necessary to prevent it from spreading further across the body.
Common Foot Problems
People with diabetes should also be aware of more common foot problems, including athlete’s foot, nail fungal infections, calluses and corns, blisters, foot ulcers and ingrown toenails. While these conditions are typically treated with ease, diabetics do not heal as well as healthy people, so even relatively minor issues should be treated with extra care. Diabetics should pay extra attention to any foot issues while healing to ensure that they don’t spread or grow into bigger, more complicated issues like infections.
How to Care for Your Feet
Proper foot care can help minimize the risk of these types of problems. To ensure positive foot health, diabetic individuals should actively:
- Examine feet daily for signs of cuts, sores, blisters, and any other sign of injury
- Wash and dry feet each day — making sure they are completely dry before dressing
- Rub lotion onto feet daily, except between toes
- Get early treatment for any signs of a foot problem, no matter how minor it may appear
- Have a doctor inspect feet at routine appointments
- Protect feet with socks and shoes
- Prop feet up when sitting, or wiggle toes and ankles several times daily to enhance blood flow
In addition to these tips, investing in shoes for diabetic or sensitive feet is another great way to keep feet healthy. If no existing foot conditions are present, look for a shoe made of soft materials with good shock absorption. It’s also important to pay attention to size to ensure the shoe isn’t too tight, which can cause chafing and blisters, or too large, which won’t provide good support and could lead to injury.
Diabetic insoles, which can be placed inside nearly any shoe, are designed to provide resilience, shock-absorption, and comfort. If you are looking for something that provides even more cushioning, specially designed shoes for diabetics are also available, which include specialized inserts or have additional room in them for the inclusion of insoles or orthotics. These shoes are created to help prevent foot injuries and improve mobility by relieving excessive pressure, accommodating deformities and limiting the motion of joints.
Take a look at the many products available for those affected by diabetes, at footwearetc.com.