Imagine walking through life taking each step with confidence and ease. Now, picture how that simple act could be compromised due to the often-overlooked but potentially devastating effects of diabetes on the feet.
Managing your diabetes extends beyond keeping blood sugar levels in check. One aspect that requires special attention is foot care. Diabetes can lead to a range of complications that affect the feet, making regular foot exams crucial.
In this fast-paced world, it's easy to overlook the significance of these exams, but this oversight can have serious consequences. Be proactive in caring for your feet by conducting regular self-exams at home and scheduling periodic checkups with a Nassau County podiatrist.
At Massapequa Podiatry Associates, our board-certified podiatrists offer new and advanced treatment options to keep your feet in top condition. We believe proactive, preventative care is crucial to keep you living your best quality of life.
Why Is Foot Assessment Important?
Diabetic foot exams serve three key purposes: detecting nerve damage, identifying circulation issues, and helping to prevent foot deformities.
Detecting Nerve Damage
High blood sugar levels can damage the nerves over time, leading to neuropathy. Neuropathy reduces the ability to feel pain, heat, or cold in the feet. This means that an individual with neuropathy might not notice injuries or infections, increasing the risk of complications.
Identifying Circulation Problems
Diabetes can also affect blood flow, leading to poor foot and leg circulation. Reduced blood flow impairs the body's ability to heal wounds, which can result in non-healing ulcers and infections.
Preventing Foot Deformities
Diabetes can cause the muscles and tendons in the feet to weaken, leading to deformities such as hammer toes or Charcot foot. Early detection of these issues can help prevent further complications and improve overall foot health.
How Can I Do a Diabetic Foot Exam at Home?
Performing regular foot exams at home is not difficult. Just follow these simple steps:
- Pick a time when you can relax and won't be interrupted. Make sure the lighting in the room is adequate to spot any issues.
- Wash your feet with warm water and mild soap. Dry them gently, paying extra attention to the spaces between your toes. Once dry, sit down and inspect both feet carefully. Look for any redness, blisters, cuts, swelling, or calluses.
- Test the sensation in your feet by lightly touching them with a cotton ball. Pay attention to any areas where you feel reduced sensitivity or an absence of sensation.
- Inspect your toenails for any signs of ingrown nails or infection. Check for changes in skin color, temperature, or texture.
- Press down on the nail of each toe and observe how quickly the color returns after releasing the pressure. Slow color return could indicate reduced blood flow.
- Look for any changes in the shape of your feet, such as arch collapse or toe deformities. Ensure there are no areas of redness or irritation.
- Record your foot examination findings so you can share your findings with your podiatrist.
When Should I Visit a Nassau County Podiatrist?
If you identify any issues during your foot care self-exam, it is important to consult an experienced Nassau County podiatrist immediately. Diabetic foot problems often do not resolve on their own and can lead to serious complications if left untreated. Contact our Nassau County foot care specialists if you experience sudden pain or swelling in your feet or toes, notice changes in foot color or shape, or have any ulcers, sores, or toenail issues. Timely treatment significantly reduces the risk of complications, including those that could lead to amputation of the toes or a portion of the foot.
Even if you don't notice immediate problems, you should still schedule regular visits to a podiatrist for a professional evaluation. Podiatrists are trained to detect subtle foot issues that might go unnoticed during self-examinations. They can also conduct specialized tests to assess nerve function, monitor blood flow, and identify areas of concern.