Diabetes is a growing epidemic in the United States. According to the American Diabetes Association there are 26 million adults and children living with disease and an additional 7 million who have prediabetes. Diabetes complications in the feet can be dangerous and is the leading cause of non-traumatic lower limb amputation. These complications and amputations can be prevented with proper foot care from a podiatrist.
The connection between a podiatrist and diabetes is an important one as proper foot care can help avoid serious limb injury or loss. Podiatrists specialize in caring for feet so they can offer the best possible treatment and recommendations to their patients. This care improves patients’ outcomes by catching problems at an early stage and providing access to appropriate treatment. A podiatrist will complete a full examination looking for signs and symptoms representative of potential diabetic foot problems. Some examples to look for on your feet and ankles include:
- ulcers or non-healing wounds
If you have diabetes you are more vulnerable to foot problems because of possible nerve damage and poor circulation to your leg and foot. This can lead to loss of sensation in the feet, meaning that the damage is more likely to go unnoticed. In addition, high blood glucose leads to dry skin, making your feet more prone to cuts and tears. You are also more susceptible to foot infections, toenail fungus and athlete’s foot.
It’s important to educate yourself and your family on your condition. They can play a vital role in helping you control your diabetes. If your family has a history of diabetes, the chance of you developing diabetes also increases.
Your podiatrist will instruct you on proper self-exam and care for your feet. This could include how to properly wash and dry your feet, why it is important to keep your feet moisturized, what to look for when examining your feet, taking care of your toenails and exercising tips. They may also recommend special footwear, such as socks that pull moisture away from your feet or shoes specifically designed for people with diabetes. Educated patients with the right tools can prevent foot and lower extremity problems by controlling their diabetes effectively and taking some simple steps to care for their feet.
A podiatrist can perform vascular, neurological and functional tests which will tell you your foot health status. It is important to have your feet checked regularly, and you should be checking your own feet daily if you are diabetic. A podiatrist’s education, training, and experience qualify them to diagnose and treat conditions of the foot, ankle and related structures of the leg as well as perform surgery if needed.
If you have diabetes and would like to start a relationship with a podiatrist to ensure the health of your feet, make an appointment to see one of our physicians today.