Don’t Slack on Your Diabetic Foot Care
Every thirty seconds, somewhere in the world, a leg is amputated. The vast majority of those amputations occur from diabetic ulcers. What’s more, 230 Americans lose their leg to diabetes each day.
The statistics are frustrating, as almost every one of those amputations was likely to have been preventable at one point. Proper foot care in patients with diabetes is one of the most important factors in preventing limb loss to this affliction.
If you suffer from diabetes, it’s critical to start following a foot care routine, coupled with regular check-ups from our professional podiatrist. It could just save you from becoming part of those statistics.
If you don’t have a diabetic foot care plan, you need to start now.
Diabetic Food Care: Why You Need to Start Now
Being diagnosed with a chronic, lifelong disease is difficult. It can be tempting, at first, to continue on with your life and try to forget about it. But this is an attitude that can lead to further problems that will impact your health and mobility.
Starting with your diabetic foot care plan early is the best way to minimize potential complications. Part of a good plan involves controlling your blood sugar, as consistently elevated levels are essentially a slow-acting toxin that poisons and damages your healthy tissues and organs over time.
This is particularly evident in diabetics’ legs and feet, where two medical conditions can develop. Hand-in-hand, these conditions can rapidly lead to a medical emergency in which amputation is the only course of action:
- Diabetic neuropathy: Diabetes can damage the nerves that serve your legs and feet. With nerve damage, you can eventually become unable to feel temperature changes, pressure, discomfort, and pain. Should you accidentally cut yourself or develop a blister, you may not notice, and the wound could become infected. Neuropathy can also cause mobility and balance problems, which can cause uneven pressure on your feet when standing. This, in turn, can lead to pressure sores and further related injuries.
- Peripheral vascular disease: Unfortunately, diabetes also impacts your circulation. Reduced blood flow leads to injuries healing more slowly. Combined with potential neuropathy, you could have an open wound that fails to heal and becomes infected, and you may not even be aware of it.
With enough time, you could develop a diabetic ulcer and even gangrene, and these are the first steps toward potentially having your foot or leg amputated.
However, there’s good news. If you start building healthy habits now, you can reduce your chance of suffering complications in the future. Even if you’re already experiencing symptoms, a comprehensive diabetic foot care plan can lessen your symptoms in the short and long term.
Starting Your Diabetic Foot Care Plan
The first step in your journey toward diabetic foot care is to come see Dr. DePalma. At Burlington County Foot & Ankle Associates, we can provide a comprehensive evaluation to determine what stage you’re at and whether you’re experiencing any symptoms. We’ll also instruct you on putting together an effective daily foot care plan to reduce your risk of developing complications and keep your feet as healthy as possible.
What Does a Typical Diabetic Foot Care Plan Look Like?
Your initial consultation with our podiatrist is essential. Our recommendations, treatments, and preventative measures will differ based on your current level of health and your specific needs. Your diabetic foot care plan may include a number of considerations, which we’ve outlined below:
- Maintain healthy blood sugar levels: Keeping your blood sugar within a healthy range is the most important thing that you can do to maintain good foot health. This means ensuring a healthy diet, sticking to regular exercise, and monitoring your blood sugar at regular intervals throughout the day. If you have any concerns, or if you’re finding it difficult to keep your blood sugar stable, it’s important to schedule an appointment with your general practitioner.
- Carry out a routine, daily foot check: With diabetic neuropathy, it’s essential to physically monitor your foot health on a daily basis. If you notice something out of the ordinary, such as a wound that’s not healing, it’s critical to contact us immediately for a proper assessment to stop the problem from escalating.
- Keep your feet clean: To prevent infection, it’s important to wash your feet every day with lukewarm water. As neuropathy could’ve affected the sensation in your feet, make sure that you test the water temperature with your elbow or a thermometer. Once done, gently pat your feet dry with a clean towel.
- Moisturize your feet after washing them: Dry, cracked skin can lead to infections, so you should always use a good-quality moisturizer on your feet after patting them dry. This will help you to avoid heel fissures that can lead to bleeding and infection. Make sure to only use a little lotion between the toes, as too much could lead to a fungal infection.
- Neatly trim your nails on a regular basis: Allowing your nails to grow too long can result in accidental cuts and scrapes. Similarly, you should avoid cutting them too short or rounding off the corners; this could lead to ingrown toenails, which could damage the health of your feet and cause further complications.
- Keep your feet covered: Whether you’re indoors or outdoors, we recommend keeping your feet covered up to avoid accidental injuries or scrapes. If your footwear becomes wet or overly sweaty, change them for a clean and dry pair as soon as possible.
- Wear clean, loose socks when sleeping: Keeping your feet covered in bed will ensure that they stay warm.
Diabetic Foot Care Interventions
At Burlington Country Foot & Ankle Associates, we’ve developed a range of services and interventions that can be applied when you need more involved foot care. There are several preventative measures that can be taken beyond the simple foot care regime outlined above, which include:
- Diabetic socks: Specialized diabetic socks are designed specifically to accommodate those who have problems with maintaining good foot health. For example, they often incorporate breathable fabrics to keep your feet dry, and additional padding that can support pressure points in the feet.
- Diabetic shoes: Diabetic shoes have the added depth to allow room for custom orthotics. Their custom design can also reduce the impact of shock and abrasion on the feet, reducing the potential damage to sensitive tissues resulting from diabetes.
- Custom orthotics: Custom orthotics are specially-made shoe inserts that are designed to match your unique foot shape. They take into account any problems that you may have developed, ensuring that you have a balanced and healthy stance. They can relieve the pressure placed on your feet, reducing the chance of complications caused by an uneven gait, for example. They are not the same as insoles bought from a regular store, which are unlikely to provide any benefit.
- Laser therapy: MLS Laser Therapy enhances the body’s natural healing responses. With our laser treatment, you could see improved blood flow, reduced inflammation, and accelerated healing in your feet. It has shown benefits in patients who suffer from neuropathy, plantar fasciitis, and more.
Don’t Do Anything Without a Proper Assessment
We’ll say it again: the first step in establishing a good diabetic foot care regime is to speak to our podiatrist. With a consultation, you’ll be able to get a good understanding of where you’re at in terms of your foot health.
It may be that you can start by maintaining your blood sugar, checking your feet regularly, and ensuring that you keep them covered, warm, and dry. Equally, you may have reached the point that you need a more comprehensive care plan with regular check-ups.
However, the worst thing that you can do after a diabetes diagnosis is to bury your head in the sand. By speaking to professionals and staying on top of your diabetic foot care plan, you can significantly reduce the chance of future health complications and potential amputations.
If you’re ready to take the first steps, get in touch with Burlington County Foot & Ankle Associates today at (609) 714-0052. Alternatively, reach out to us with our contact form if you’d rather we get in touch with you directly.