Diabetic Foot Care
Diabetes: Common Problems with the Feet
Diabetes mellitus (“diabetes”) is a disease that is characterized by the body’s inability to manufacture or use insulin properly. Insulin is important for converting sugars, starch and other foods, thus controlling blood glucose (“blood sugar”) levels. Without proper insulin function, excess sugar in the blood damages nerves, blood vessels, and certain organs and areas of the body, including the feet.
How Diabetes Affects the Feet
Uncontrolled diabetes damages the nerves and blood vessels of the feet. Damage to the nerves leads to “sensory diabetic neuropathy,” which is the inability to feel heat, cold or pain. This is dangerous because patients may not realize that they have a cut or sore on the foot, allowing it to get worse without knowing. Compounding the problem is damage to the blood vessels, “peripheral vascular disease,” which results in poor blood flow to the arms and legs. The body needs good blood flow to heal wounds – without it, wounds on the feet progress rapidly and, if untreated, can lead to ulcers, gangrene and even amputation. Often, it is something trivial like a poorly fitted shoe that creates a small wound that snowballs into something very serious in a short amount of time.
Diabetic Foot Ulcer
Also known as diabetic ulcerations, these are sores that do not heal on their own. The ulcer may start as a small wound and rapidly progress to a hole that extends down to the bone, if left untreated. That’s why it is very important to check your feet carefully every day, follow the home care instructions below, and see us regularly for diabetic podiatric care.
Diabetic Wound Care: How to Treat Diabetic Feet
We use a variety of approaches in diabetic wound care. Often the first steps include hydrogel dressings to keep the wound clean yet moist, debridement, antibiotic treatment and specialized footwear to take all pressure off the wound. Additional treatments may be necessary to heal and prevent the worsening of the ulcer, which can progress to the need for amputation if untreated.
Foot Care at Home for Diabetics
- Inspect feet and toes daily. Check carefully for small cuts, bruises, sores and callouses using a mirror or the help of a friend. Report them to us for proper care.
- Wash your feet every day with warm water and mild soap. Dry them carefully, especially between the toes, with a soft, seamless towel (do not leave them wet or moist).
- Lifestyle is important. Do not smoke which makes circulatory problems worse, and maintain a healthy weight.
- Manage your blood sugar properly. Work with your primary care physician to make sure that your diabetes is managed at all times, to prevent further nerve damage in the feet.
- Wear thick socks. Acrylic, soft, thick socks are perfect for diabetic feet. Avoid seams, which can cause blisters. Wicking type socks are the best.
- Cut toenails straight across and soften corners with an emery board. Do not corner or taper nails. It is OK to leave a bit of white nail showing.
- Exercise by walking regularly to help manage weight, blood sugar and to condition your feet. Only walk with prescribed footwear that is suitable for diabetic feet.
- Don’t go barefoot in the home or outside.
- Don’t wear heels, sandals, pointed toe flats, etc. It is important to wear diabetic-appropriate footwear at all times.
- Don’t attempt to scrape or remove warts, calluses or corns by yourself. This can make ulcers more serious or invite infection.
- Don’t drink alcohol excessively.
Diabetic Foot Pain FAQs:
What are the symptoms of diabetic foot pain?
Are you wondering what diabetes feels like in your feet? Look for some of these symptoms, which may be stronger at night:
- Tingling or burning
- Pain and cramping
- Balance problems
- Muscle weakness
- Reduced feeling
- Excessive sensitivity to touch
- Ulcers, infections, etc
What can I soak my feet in for pain?
For pain, you may soak your feet in an Epsom salt soak, using two tablespoons Epson salt in a large basin of lukewarm water. Soak for 20 minutes (no more) and dry well afterward to prevent moisture from lingering.
Can nerve damage from diabetes be reversed?
Diabetic nerve damage cannot be reversed. It can, however, be well managed by regular care at home and in our office. Glucose control is critical.
To get started with our friendly team, please call Bensalem Office Phone Number 215-638-4446 today.