Normally, a minor cut or scrape on your foot or toe isn’t something to worry about. As long as you clean the cut and bandage it, healing is generally quick and uncomplicated. If you live with diabetes, however, even a minute injury can turn serious in a hurry.
Diabetes prevents your body from properly using what you eat as fuel, and it leaves you either unable to produce enough insulin (the hormone that regulates how much glucose is in your blood), or unable to use it efficiently, in the case of Type 2 diabetes.
With Type 1 diabetes, which is usually diagnosed in childhood, you don’t make any insulin at all.
Unfortunately, diabetes is an epidemic in our country. It’s estimated that over 37 million people have it. The disease causes many complications, from kidney damage to vision loss. Another common one is diabetic neuropathy, which can lead to these serious foot problems.
The talented podiatrists at South Florida Foot & Ankle Centers are deeply invested in your foot health, and they nurture trusting relationships with their diabetic patients. They provide the most advanced treatment for diabetic neuropathy and are always available to answer questions and advise you on home care.
The dangers diabetes poses to your feet
These are some of the serious outcomes that can develop when neuropathy causes foot problems that go untreated:
- Numbness in your feet that makes you unable to feel pain or temperature extremes
- A “pins and needles” tingling or burning feeling in your feet
- Intense foot sensitivity, even when touching something lightly
- Reflex problems
- Stabbing pain in the feet that worsens at night
- Bone or joint damage
- Skin ulcers
- Infections that are marked by redness, a hot feeling to the skin, swelling, and more
Besides pain and discomfort, ulcers and infections can initiate a chain of events that lead to gangrene, which is marked by tissue dying due to a serious infection or a lack of blood flow. This can then lead to amputation or the body’s extreme response to an infection that’s actually life-threatening: sepsis.
How can I avoid acquiring a diabetes-related foot infection?
Seeing your podiatrist regularly is an absolute must if you have diabetes. We examine your feet, create a treatment plan if you have an infection, and more. You also have a large part to play in keeping your feet healthy, day in and day out.
Your podiatrist gives you recommendations on caring for your feet. It’s important to:
- Wash your feet well daily, and dry them thoroughly
- Moisturize your feet gently with lotion, but don’t apply it between your toes
- Examine your feet carefully each day for any scratches, nicks, or injuries
- Change your position frequently (so you’re not sitting for hours, for example)
- Exercise your feet by wiggling your toes and moving your ankles
Among examples of why we make these suggestions: We want you to refrain from putting lotion between your toes because in that tight space, fungal infections like athlete’s foot can thrive — bad news if you have diabetes. And moving your feet around helps keep your blood circulating well.
It’s also vital for you to manage your blood glucose really well, and remain vigilant about monitoring it.
When you and your podiatrist work together, you maintain your foot health and have less worry about suffering some of the scary symptoms and outcomes we’ve talked about.
If you notice anything unusual or feel discomfort as you do your daily foot checks, call your South Florida Foot and Ankle Centers podiatrist immediately so you can have your feet evaluated and treated.
Our diabetic foot care treatments
We’re proud to deliver innovative diabetic foot care treatment, such as advanced wound care therapy, which includes:
- Ensuring that any foot wounds are clean, safely dressed, and closely monitored
- Doing all you can, together, to prevent ulcers
- Getting foot problems treated promptly, like corns, calluses, and other foot conditions
- Preventive antibiotic treatment
The combination of neuropathy, a weakened immune system, and narrowed arteries makes advanced wound care a must.
For wounds, we offer regenerative treatments that harness your body’s own power to heal, and hyperbaric oxygen therapy, which involves taking in pure oxygen while you’re in a pressurized environment. We can also treat wounds with negative pressure wound therapy, a fluid and infection extraction method.
We can also provide custom orthotics (shoe inserts) to protect your skin and lessen the likelihood of foot ulcers developing.
Call us to schedule a consultation at our location closest to you so you can learn more about the importance of diabetic foot care, or request an appointment online. We have offices in Royal Palm Beach, Lake Worth, Palm Beach Gardens, and Belle Glade, Florida.