shutterstock_1723848115_2jo0GfW..jpeg (shutterstock_1723848115.webp)Diabetes is a chronic condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It is caused by the body's inability to produce or use insulin effectively, resulting in high blood glucose levels. Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to serious complications, including nerve damage and poor circulation, which can have a negative impact on foot health.

Dr. Michael Ruiz, DPM, a trusted podiatrist with over 20 years of experience at Lake Erie Podiatry in Erie, PA, sees first-hand the effects of diabetes on foot health. In fact, about 15% - 25% of people with diabetes will develop a foot ulcer at some point in their lives. That's why individuals with diabetes must understand the connection between diabetes and foot health and take steps to prevent complications.

How Does Diabetes Affect Foot Health?

The effects of diabetes on foot health can be attributed to two main factors: nerve damage and poor circulation.

  • Nerve Damage

    High blood sugar levels in individuals with diabetes can cause damage to the nerves in the feet, a condition known as diabetic neuropathy. This can result in a loss of sensation, making it difficult for individuals to feel pain, heat, or cold in their feet. As a result, they may not notice when they have sustained an injury or developed a wound.

    This lack of sensation also makes it challenging for individuals with diabetes to detect changes in the shape and structure of their feet. To complicate matters, nerve damage can also cause the muscles in the feet to weaken, leading to foot deformities such as hammertoes or Charcot foot.

  • Poor Circulation

    Diabetes can also cause damage to blood vessels, resulting in poor circulation. With less oxygen and nutrients reaching the feet, it is more difficult for wounds to heal properly, leading to a higher risk of infection

    Poor blood flow can also lead to a condition called peripheral arterial disease (PAD), which causes narrowing or blockages in the arteries of the legs and feet. This can result in foot pain, ulcers, and even amputation if not treated promptly.

    Common causes of poor circulation in individuals with diabetes include:

    • Smoking
    • High cholesterol
    • High blood sugar levels

    To prevent or manage poor circulation, it is essential to maintain healthy blood sugar levels and make lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking and maintaining a healthy diet.

Common Foot Problems Associated with Diabetes

In addition to diabetic neuropathy, here are some of the most common foot problems associated with diabetes:

  • Diabetic Foot Ulcers: Foot ulcers are open sores on the foot that develop due to prolonged pressure or injury. In individuals with diabetes, foot ulcers can occur due to poor circulation and nerve damage. Without proper treatment, they can become infected and lead to serious complications.
  • Charcot Foot: Charcot foot is a severe condition that affects individuals with diabetes who have lost sensation in their feet. It causes the bones in the feet to weaken and break easily, resulting in deformities. If left untreated, Charcot foot can lead to disability and amputation.
  • Foot Infection: Poorly managed diabetes can weaken the immune system, making individuals more susceptible to infections. Foot infections in people with diabetes can be particularly dangerous as they may not notice them until they have become severe.

Tips for Maintaining Healthy Feet with Diabetes

The good news is that many foot problems associated with diabetes can be prevented by taking simple steps to maintain healthy feet. Here are some tips to help you keep your feet healthy:

  1. 1. Inspect feet daily- Check your feet every day for any redness, blisters, sores, or other signs of infection. If you have trouble seeing the bottom of your feet, use a mirror or ask someone to help.
  2. 2. Keep feet clean and dry- Wash your feet daily with warm water and mild soap, and make sure to dry them thoroughly afterward.
  3. 3. Moisturize your feet- Keeping your feet moisturized can prevent dry skin and cracks that can lead to infection. Avoid putting lotion between your toes, as it can create a moist environment for bacteria or fungi to grow.
  4. 4. Don't go barefoot- Walking barefoot can increase the risk of injury and infection. Always wear shoes or slippers, even at home.
  5. 5. Choose proper footwear - Wear shoes that fit well and provide proper support for your feet. Make sure they have enough room for your toes to move comfortably. Avoid wearing high heels or shoes with pointed toes.
  6. 6. Inspect shoes before wearing - Always check your shoes for any foreign objects or rough areas that could cause irritation or injury to your feet.
  7. 8. Quit smoking - Smoking causes spasms and narrowing of blood vessels, further reducing blood flow to the feet. Quitting smoking can improve circulation and decrease foot complications.
  8. 9. Visit a podiatrist regularly - People with diabetes should have their feet examined by a podiatrist regularly. A podiatrist can identify any potential issues and provide treatment before they become serious.

When Should I See A Doctor?

It’s important to seek expert diabetic foot care treatment from a qualified podiatrist like Dr. Michael Ruiz as soon as possible if you notice any of the following symptoms:

  • Redness, swelling, or pain in your foot
  • Ingrown toenails or thick, discolored toenails
  • Dry, cracked skin
  • Corns or calluses that are painful or won't go away
  • Wounds or sores that are not healing
  • Foul odor or discharge from a wound
  • Changes in skin color or temperature of your feet
  • Any numbness or tingling in your feet that lasts more than a few days.

Even without these symptoms, regular check-ups with your podiatrist are crucial to preventative diabetic foot care. These routine visits allow for early detection and treatment of potential foot issues, helping to prevent complications before they escalate. Moreover, a podiatrist's personalized advice can guide you in effectively managing diabetes and maintaining foot health.

How Can Dr. Ruiz Help?

Dr. Ruiz is a board-certified podiatrist with extensive experience treating foot problems associated with diabetes. He offers comprehensive diabetic foot care, including preventive measures, medical management of wounds and infections, and surgical options when necessary.

Some of the services offered by Dr. Ruiz include:

With the help of a qualified podiatrist like Dr. Ruiz, you can prevent or manage foot problems associated with diabetes and ensure your feet stay healthy and pain-free.

Your Feet Deserve The Best Care

Individuals with diabetes are at a higher risk of foot problems due to nerve damage and poor circulation. To prevent or manage these issues, it is essential to maintain healthy blood sugar levels and make lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking. Regular visits to a qualified podiatrist like Dr. Ruiz for diabetic foot care can also greatly reduce the risk of serious complications.

Don't wait until it's too late to take care of your feet. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Ruiz today for expert diabetic foot care.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I see a podiatrist even if I don't have foot problems?

Yes, individuals with diabetes are encouraged to visit a podiatrist regularly for routine foot exams and preventive care. This helps to identify and treat any potential issues before they become serious. So, even if you don't have any foot problems, it is still important to regularly see a podiatrist for diabetic foot care.

How often should I have my feet examined?

It is recommended for individuals with diabetes to have a foot examination by a podiatrist at least once a year. However, if you have any current foot problems or are experiencing any symptoms, schedule an appointment at Lake Erie Podiatry immediately for proper evaluation and treatment.

Can I manage my diabetic foot problems at home?

While basic self-care is important for the prevention of foot problems, it is essential to seek medical advice and treatment from a podiatrist for any diabetic foot complications. Trying to manage these issues on your own without proper medical guidance can lead to more severe problems. Always consult with a qualified podiatrist like Dr. Ruiz for any foot problems related to diabetes.