Diabetes can cause poor circulation and nerve damage in the feet or hands, a condition known as neuropathy. The loss of feeling in your feet could lead to several foot problems including ulcers, infections, gangrene, and Charcot arthropathy, a syndrome that causes foot fractures or dislocations.
The most common foot complications seen in diabetic patients are slow-healing wounds, explains foot and ankle orthopaedic surgeon, Lance M. Silverman, MD, of Silverman Ankle & Foot in Minnesota. “Healing is a tremendous challenge for this population, and small cuts or open sores can quickly become huge problems.”
Inspect and Take Care of Your Feet
If you have diabetes, foot and ankle orthopaedic surgeons recommend inspecting your feet every day for any cuts, bruises, or blisters. Check between each toe and feel your feet for signs of swelling. If you find an injury, even if it is minor, consult with a medical doctor. Trim your toenails straight across and do not use chemical antiseptic solutions on your feet. Make sure to keep your feet away from heat sources such as radiators, heating pads, or fireplaces as you could get burned without feeling it.
Dr. Silverman added, “One of my most essential pieces of advice follows Benjamin Franklin’s adage, ‘An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.'”
Choose the Right Shoes
It is highly recommended for diabetics with loss of sensation to work with a pedorthist or trained shoe fitter when choosing their shoes. Try on shoes later in the day when your feet are larger and make sure they instantly feel comfortable. Diabetics should select shoes made from a flexible material with a wide toe box, and avoid sandals, flip flops, and high-heeled or pointed-toe shoes.
“The feet are essential for mobility,” says Dr. Silverman. “When diabetic foot complications develop, patients cannot safely work, play, or even perform some of the simple activities of daily living.” By recognizing and treating diabetic foot complications early, diabetics can maintain a healthy and active lifestyle.
Learn more about diabetic foot care and treatment from FootCareMD.
About Foot and Ankle Orthopaedic Surgeons
Foot and ankle orthopaedic surgeons are medical doctors (MD and DO) who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal disorders and injuries of the foot and ankle. Their education and training consist of four years of medical school, five years of postgraduate residency, and a fellowship year of specialized surgical training. These specialists care for patients of all ages, performing reconstructive surgery for deformities and arthritis, treating sports injuries, and managing foot and ankle trauma.
About the AOFAS
The American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society (AOFAS) mobilizes our dynamic community of foot and ankle orthopaedic surgeons to improve patient care through education, research, and advocacy. As the premier global organization for foot and ankle care, AOFAS delivers exceptional events and resources for continuous education, funds and promotes innovative research, and broadens patient understanding of foot and ankle conditions and treatments. By emphasizing collaboration and excellence, AOFAS inspires ever-increasing levels of professional performance leading to improved patient outcomes. For more information visit the American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society online at aofas.org.
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SOURCE American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society