Diabetes is a condition that makes it difficult for our bodies to process food and produce insulin, increasing the level of sugar we have in our blood. These changes to our blood make it difficult for blood to get to certain extremities, especially our feet.
Without the nutrients that blood supplies, you may experience pain, difficulty walking, or other sensations like numbness, burning or tingling; this is often called “diabetic neuropathy.”. In the most serious cases, amputation may be required.
The American Diabetes Association recommends an annual foot exam with a foot specialist if you suffer from diabetes. Doctors who specialize in diabetic foot care can help you manage your diabetes and prevent foot pain from arising or escalating.
Your doctor may prescribe medications and special shoes and encourage a healthy diet and exercise, as well as examining your feet regularly to monitor progress. In this exam, the doctor may use special tools to check sensitivity in your feet. The doctor may also order imaging tests to see the condition of your foot bones. Foot exams help detect foot problems early on, when they are easier to treat.
Don’t hesitate to consult with your doctor if you notice anything unusual, such as a sore or other injury that won’t heal or that looks infected. You should also talk to your doctor if you need a growth, such as a corn or callus, removed. Your doctor may also be able to help with nerve pain associated with diabetes.
You can take an active role in managing your diabetes and feet by following a few simple tips:
Diabetic shoes: First, wear diabetes-friendly shoes. Choose comfortable, close-toed shoes and slippers with sturdy soles that support and protect your feet. Resist the urge to go barefoot, even when walking around inside your house. Shoes can help relieve pressure on your feet and protect them from further injury.
Make sure that your diabetic shoes are roomy enough that you can wiggle your toes without rubbing or pinching, but not so big that your feet slip. Also, choose sense over style. Don’t wear plastic shoes, flip-flops, high heels, or pointy-toed shoes. When appropriate, wear good, thick, clean socks to prevent blisters.
Foot care: Because you might not have normal sensation or feeling you should examine your feet daily. Keep your feet clean and soft by examining them every day and applying ointments as needed. Daily foot care is the best way to prevent problems — or to catch problems early, before they become serious. Wash your feet each day using warm water, drying them carefully afterwards. When washing your feet, stick to water or gentle cleansers, don’t use any harsh chemicals.
Keep an eye on any cuts, scratches, blisters, calluses, or corns, and if you see any have your doctor take a look. Use unscented lotion or Vaseline to keep your feet soft and smooth. However, do not put lotion or Vaseline between your toes. The area between your toes has more moisture, which can breed infection. Keep this area dry to reduce your chances of getting an infection.
- Toenails: Don’t forget about your toenails. Keep your toenails trimmed straight across and use an emery board to smooth any rough edges. By following these simple steps, you can help to keep your feet safe from painful and debilitating complications.