Diabetes has reached epidemic proportions in the United States, and the situation is only projected to get worse. A few facts:
According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), more than 29 million Americans have the disease—almost 1 in 10.
Among seniors, the numbers are even more dire: about 1 in 4 of those over 65 have diabetes.
According to the ADA, around 73,000 amputations were performed on American adults as a direct result of diabetes complications in 2010 alone.
For those with diabetes, proper daily foot inspection and care, as well as regular checkups, are critical to maintaining an active, pain-free, and high quality of life. Tens of thousands of people with diabetes lose toes or feet due to related complications each year, but nearly all these cases are preventable with disciplined maintenance and foot care.
Why Diabetes Is So Dangerous for Feet and Legs
Diabetes affects your feet and legs primarily in two ways: one, blood flow slows, and two, peripheral nerves in the extremities can become damaged (peripheral neuropathy), causing them to lose sensitivity or misfire.
These twin symptoms are double trouble for feet. If diabetic neuropathy has dulled your senses, you may not feel it right away when a blister, cut, scrape, puncture, or other injury occurs. And if your circulation is weak, your body may not be able to heal the wound or injury, or at least not quickly enough to stave off an infection.
Left unchecked, even relatively minor scrapes can get infected, develop into ulcers, and ultimately even require an amputation if treatment is not sought in time.
Your Daily Guide to Preventing Diabetic Foot Complications
Don’t underestimate the value of daily diabetic foot care. Just 5-10 minutes per day to inspect your feet can do more than you know to preserve limbs and keep you happy, healthy, and active, halting problems before they have a chance to get worse. Basic tips include:
Fully inspect your feet at least once per day, including between the toes, for any signs of redness, swelling, cuts, blisters, foot ulcers, cracking, corns, calluses, discoloration, or other problems.
Wash and dry feet thoroughly every day, making sure you get between the toes. Use mild soap and warm (not hot) water—you can test the temperature with your elbow or a thermometer. Don’t soak your feet, as this can break down the skin.
Keep skin soft with regular moisturizing (though don’t apply between toes—it can lead to fungal infection). Excessively dry skin can lead to cracks and fissures that can get infected.
Never go barefoot - wear shoes to protect your feet against scrapes and punctures. Choose well-fitting, flat shoes with cotton or wool socks, as this will help you stay supported, dry, and comfortable.
Trim toenails straight across, and not too short. Excessively short or curved nails are more likely to end up ingrown.
Avoid excessive heat or cold, and keep your feet away from direct heat sources.
Diabetic Foot Care Podiatrist
At Massapequa Podiatry Associates, P.C., Dr. Corey Fox is dedicated to helping those with diabetes stay healthy and active by providing the foot care they need to avoid serious complications.
We urge our patients with diabetes to come in for a comprehensive diabetic foot care consultation, which includes a visual inspection, circulation assessment, nerve testing, musculoskeletal exam, and gait analysis. Based on this assessment, we can devise the best possible treatment approach or prevention strategies for your situation, as well as refer you to any other specialists you may require.
Other services we provide for diabetic patients include:
Regular diabetic foot exams
Fitting of prescription diabetic shoes (often insurance-reimbursable)
Treatment for a full range of foot problems and conditions that may require additional care due to the risk of diabetic complications.
If you struggle with diabetes, please give Dr. Corey Fox at Massapequa Podiatry Associates a call today. It’s not enough to simply hope something will go away—proactive, preventative care is crucial to keep you on your feet and living your best quality of life.