Did you know at least 50% of people with diabetes develop chronic and debilitating foot pain? Plus an additional 10% of diabetics get problematic foot ulcers that can become a serious infection risk.
The good news is you can take steps to prevent diabetic foot trouble and stop serious complications from developing.
As part of our comprehensive line of services, board-certified podiatrist Mark Hopkins, DPM, and the experienced team at South Sound Foot & Ankle provide patients in Olympia, Washington, with excellent diabetic foot care.
Read on to better understand how diabetes affects your feet and the steps you can take to keep them healthy.
How does diabetes affect my feet?
As a diabetic, you have more glucose circulating throughout your body. Since the underlying cause of diabetic foot trouble is uncontrolled blood sugar, this means you have a higher risk of developing foot problems.
When your blood sugar level is high over a period of time, it causes damage to your nerves and circulatory system. The nerve endings in your feet are especially affected, leading to conditions like diabetic neuropathy and peripheral vascular disease which increase your risk for more foot trouble.
Nerve damage from elevated blood sugars that causes a loss of feeling and sensation in your feet is called diabetic neuropathy. It prevents you from feeling when your foot is cut, irritated, or develops blisters, which creates a higher risk of these wounds getting infected. Infections in your feet can result in gangrene, putting you at risk for amputation.
Peripheral vascular disease
The damage to your circulatory system and blood vessels can lead to a condition called peripheral vascular disease. When you have peripheral vascular disease, there are blocked blood vessels in your legs. The blockage prevents your feet from getting enough blood, meaning any wounds or injuries to your feet heal slowly and become infected at higher rates.
How can I avoid diabetic foot problems?
While diabetes means you’re at a higher risk of developing foot problems, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk and keep your feet healthy.
The most important step is to control your blood sugar. Research has shown that diabetics with well-managed blood sugar levels are able to prevent nerve damage. And for patients already diagnosed with neuropathy, getting control over your blood sugar levels can reduce foot pain and further damage.
Other steps you can take to keep your feet healthy with diabetes include:
- Engaging in regular exercise, which improves circulation, helps manage blood sugar, and prevents neuropathy
- Wear diabetes-friendly footwear that fits well and can accommodate swelling feet
- Practice good foot hygiene by keeping your nails trimmed straight across and regularly looking for signs of infection
- Keep your feet moisturized to prevent cracks that can become infected
- Change your socks frequently to keep them sweat-free and reduce the risk of infection
- Avoid walking barefoot to reduce your chances of getting small cuts and wounds
Dr. Hopkins and the team at South Sound Foot & Ankle are dedicated to providing excellent diabetic foot care. Be sure to regularly come into the office at least once each year for a preventive diabetic foot exam so Dr. Hopkins can address any problems early before complications start.
Sometimes it’s important to come in to see Dr. Hopkins between annual exams. Call our office right away if you experience any of the following before your next routine visit:
- Blood or other drainages in your shoes or socks
- Numbness, tingling, or pain in your feet or toes
- Stiffness or pain in your joints
If you have diabetes and want to learn more about foot care for diabetes, Dr. Hopkins and the team at South Sound Foot & Ankle are here to help. Contact our Olympia office to schedule an appointment or book online now!