Diabetes is a serious disease that can develop from the lack of insulin production in the body or due to the inability of the body’s insulin to perform its normal everyday functions. Insulin is a substance produced by the pancreas gland that helps process the food we eat and turn it into energy.
Diabetes affects approximately 16 million Americans and is classified into 2 different types: Type 1 and Type 2. Type 1 is usually associated with juvenile diabetes and is often linked through heredity. Type 2, commonly referred to as adult onset diabetes, is characterized by elevated blood sugar.
There are often many complications associated with diabetes. Diabetes disrupts the vascular system, affecting many areas of the body such as the eyes, kidneys, legs and feet. People with diabetes should pay special attention to their feet.
Of the sixteen million Americans with diabetes, 25% will develop foot problems related to the disease. Diabetic foot conditions develop from a combination of causes including poor circulation and neuropathy. Diabetic neuropathy can cause insensitivity or a loss of ability to feel pain, heat and cold. Diabetics suffering from neuropathy can develop minor cuts, scrapes, blisters or pressure sores that they may not be aware of. If these minor injuries are left untreated, complications may result and lead to ulceration and possibly even amputation. Neuropathy can also cause deformities such as bunions, hammertoes and Charcot foot.
It is very important for diabetics to take the necessary precautions to prevent all foot related injuries. Due to the consequences of neuropathy, daily observation of the feet is critical. When a diabetic patient takes the necessary preventative foot care measures, it reduces the risks of serious foot conditions.
Diabetes often leads to peripheral vascular disease that inhibits a person’s blood circulation. With this condition, there is a narrowing of the arteries that frequently leads to significantly decreased circulation in the lower part of the legs and the feet. Poor circulation contributes to diabetic foot problems by reducing the amount of oxygen and nutrition supplied to the skin and other tissue, therefore causing injuries to heal poorly. Poor circulation can also lead to swelling and dryness of the foot. Preventing foot complications is more critical for the diabetic patient since poor circulation impairs the healing process and can lead to ulcers, infection and other serious foot conditions.
Footwear and orthotics play an important role in diabetic foot care. Orthotics designed with Plastazote foam, the #1 material for protecting the insensitive diabetic foot, are usually recommended. Plastazote is a material designed to accommodate pressure “hot spots” by conforming to heat and pressure. By customizing to the foot, Plastazote provides the comfort and protection needed in diabetic foot care. Footwear constructed with Plastazote is also recommended frequently for the diabetic patient. Diabetic footwear is characterized by:
If you have diabetes, you should be particularly alert to any problems you may be having with your feet. It is very important for individuals with neuropathy to take necessary precautions to prevent injury and keep their feet healthy. If you have diabetes and are experiencing a foot problem, immediately consult with your foot doctor.
Proper foot care is especially critical for individuals with diabetes because they are prone to foot problems such as loss of feeling in their feet, changes in the shape of their feet and foot ulcers or sores that do not heal.
Simple daily foot care may reduce the risk of serious problems. According to the National Institute of Health, the following are simple everyday steps that will help prevent serious complications from diabetes:
Take Care Of Your Diabetes - Make healthy life style choices to keep your blood sugar close to normal. Work with your health care team to create a diabetes plan that fits your life style characteristics.
Check Your Feet Every Day – You may have foot problems that you may not be aware of. Check your feet for cuts, sores, red spots, swelling or infected toenails. Checking your feet should become part of your daily routine. If you have trouble bending over to see your feet, use a mirror to help or ask a family member to help you.
Important Reminder: When you first begin wearing new shoes, it is critical you check your feet several times per day to ensure that no skin irritation is occurring. If you notice any problems, discontinue wearing the new shoes and return to our store. Be sure to call your doctor immediately if a cut, sore, blister or bruise on your foot does not heal after one day.
Wash Your Feet Every Day – Wash your feet in warm, NOT HOT, water. Do not soak your feet because your skin will get dry. Before bathing or showering, test the water to make sure it is not too hot. You should use a thermometer or your elbow. Dry your feet well. Be sure to dry between your toes. Use talcum powder to keep the skin dry between the toes.
Keep The Skin Soft And Smooth – Rub a thin coat of skin lotion or cream on the tops and bottoms of the feet. Do not put lotion between your toes because this might cause infection.
Trim Your Toenails Each Week Or When Needed – Trim your toenails with clippers after you wash and dry your feet. Trim the toenails straight across and smooth them an emory board or nail file. DO NOT cut in to the corners of the nail or rip off hangnails. If your nails are thick or yellowed, DO NOT cut your own nails, have a podiatrist trim them.
Wear Shoes And Socks At All Times – Do not walk barefoot, not even indoors. It is extremely easy to step on something and hurt your feet. Always swear seamless socks, stockings or nylons with your shoes to help avoid the possibility of blisters and sore developing. Be sure to choose seamless socks that are made of materials that wick moisture away from your feet and absorb shock and shear. Socks made of these materials help keep your feet dry. Always check the insides of your shoes before putting them on. Make sure the lining is smooth and three are no foreign objects in the shoes. Wear shoes that fit well and protect your feet.
Protect Your Feet From Hot And Cold – Always wear shoes at the beach or on hot pavement. Put sunscreen on the tops of your feet for protection from the sun. Keep your feet away from radiators or open fires. DO NOT use a hot water bottle or heating pads on your feet. If you feet are cold, wear seamless socks at night. Lined boots are good to keep your feet warm in the winter. Choose socks carefully. DO NOT wear socks with seams or bumpy areas. Choose padded socks to protect your feet and make walking more comfortable.
Keep The Blood Flowing To Your Feet – Put your feet up when you are sitting. Wiggle your toes for 5 minutes, 2 or 3 times a day. Move your ankles up and down and in and out to improve blood flow in your feet and legs. If you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol, work with your health care team to lower it.
Be More Active – Ask your doctor to plan an exercise program that is right for you. Walking, dancing, swimming and bicycling are good forms of exercise that are easy on the feet. Avoid all activities that are hard on the feet, such as running and jumping. Always include a short warm-up or cool-down period. Wear protective walking or athletic shoes that fit well and offer good support.
Communicate With Your Doctor – Ask your doctor to check the sense of feeling and pulses in your feet at least once a year. Ask your doctor to tell you immediately if you have serious foot problems. Ask your doctor for proper foot care tips. Ask your doctor for the name of a local podiatrist.
See your doctor and then call us for an evaluation and fitting appointment!