Diabetes poses an unusual risk to feet for those suffering from this disease. If too much sugar gets into the blood, two main problems can occur: diabetic neuropathy and peripheral artery disease (PAD). Diabetic neuropathy is nerve damage that is caused by poor diabetic management. The result is lack of sensation in the feet. The problem is worsened because nerve damage can lead to muscle dysfunction, which leads to unusual gait and increased risk of damage to feet. If you cannot feel pain, cold, or hot sensations, one small cut or sore can potentially lead to a huge legion that requires amputation of the toe, entire foot, and even part of the leg. Peripheral artery disease is caused by a change in blood flow. Diabetes can lead to poor blood flow to the hands and feet. The result is an increased risk of gangrene (tissue death) and decreased recovery time from existing lesions, sores, and other foot problems.
So what is the answer? The best thing to prevent these issues is proper diabetes management, but there are a few additional precautions that can be taken to ensure proper foot care:
- Wash feet daily and check feet daily. If you have problems viewing the bottom of the foot, use a mirror.
- If your feet are healthy, getting your feet looked at by a podiatrist once a year is recommended. If you have problems with your feet, it should be at least once every two to three months. Make an appointment as soon as you notice any problems -- do not attempt to remove calluses or corns yourself.
- Diabetic insoles, like the New Balance IPR3030 Pressure Relief Insoles with Metatarsal Support (also available in Wide) were specifically designed to decrease risk of ulcers through decreased friction inside the shoe.
- A foot pillow, used while sleeping or relaxing, can help reduce unneeded pressure on feet.
- Wear clean, dry socks and shoes that won’t cut off circulation or allow your foot to move around inside the shoe.
- Do not go barefoot, even indoors. And closed-toe shoes are recommended.
- Maintain blood flow by elevating feet whenever possible, and refrain from crossing the feet.