Diabetes is a common health condition that affects your ability to make or use the hormone insulin. While you probably understand that having diabetes can impact many aspects of your life, you may not have realized the toll it can take on the health of your feet.
Unfortunately, people with diabetes have a much higher risk of developing complicated foot problems. Studies demonstrate about half of diabetics experience significant foot pain, and an additional 10% develop foot ulcers, increasing their odds of amputation.
The good news is that you can take steps to keep your diabetic feet healthy and stop any problematic complications before they begin. At New Canaan Podiatry, our board-certified podiatrist, Jennifer Tauber, DPM, and the care team offer the best diabetic foot care to our patients in New Canaan, Connecticut.
We’re also dedicated to giving our patients the information they need to have the healthiest feet possible. Keep reading to learn more about how diabetes impacts your feet and how you can keep them healthy.
Why are my feet impacted by diabetes?
As a person with diabetes, you naturally have more blood sugar or glucose. This increases your risk of developing foot problems since uncontrolled blood sugar damages your nerves and circulatory system. The nerve endings in your feet are often the most affected since they’re the farthest from your heart.
Damage to the nerves in your feet causes two main health issues: diabetic neuropathy and peripheral vascular disease. Unfortunately, once you develop one or both conditions, your risk of more foot complications increases.
Concerns related to diabetic neuropathy
Nerve damage that triggers a loss of sensation in your feet and extremities is called diabetic neuropathy. Because having diabetic neuropathy makes it hard to feel when you have blisters, cut your foot, or irritate the skin of your feet, there’s a greater chance that these wounds can get infected, and gangrene can set in. This puts all people with diabetes at an elevated risk of needing foot or limb amputation.
Concerns related to peripheral vascular disease
Unmanaged diabetes can significantly damage your circulatory system and blood vessels. When this happens, you can develop peripheral vascular disease (PVD). PVD blocks the blood vessels in your legs and feet from getting enough blood, and as a result, any minor injuries or wounds you have heal slowly.
Is there a way to keep my diabetic feet healthy?
Even though diabetes puts you at a higher risk of developing foot concerns, there are things you can do to minimize your risk and help keep your feet as healthy as possible. Let’s take a closer look:
Manage your blood sugar for the win
The most important thing you can do to keep your feet healthy when you have diabetes is to get your blood sugar under control. Time and time again, research shows that when people with diabetes have well-managed blood sugar levels, they can prevent or slow nerve damage and foot pain.
Top tips for avoiding diabetic foot problems
Managing your blood sugar is critical, but there are other ways to avoid having foot health issues when you have diabetes. Here are some of our top tips:
- Engage in regular exercise and physical activity to improve circulation, keep blood sugar controlled, and prevent neuropathy
- Wear diabetes-friendly shoes that fit well and can accommodate natural foot swelling
- Practice excellent foot hygiene by keeping nails trimmed straight and your eyes peeled for signs of infections
- Keep feet moisturized to prevent cracks as they can easily get infected, and try to keep your feet dry and sweat-free by changing your socks often
You’ll also want to avoid wearing open shoes, like flip flops, or walking without footwear to minimize your chances of cutting your feet or getting small wounds.
Can a podiatrist help keep my diabetic feet in good health?
ABSOLUTELY! Dr. Tauber and the team at New Canaan Podiatry offer the best in diabetic foot care, with both preventive treatments and acute care.
The first step is scheduling an annual preventive foot care exam. This ensures Dr. Tauber can address any issues early on before major complications begin.
If you have any problematic symptoms, don’t wait for your annual exam to see your podiatrist. Here are some warning signs to watch for, and if you experience any, call our office to come in as soon as possible:
- Seeing blood or other drainage in your shoes or socks
- Experiencing pain, numbness, or tingling sensation in your feet or toes
- Having stiffness or pain in your joints or feet
Ready to learn more about how diabetes impacts your feet and how you can stay healthy? Call Dr. Tauber at New Canaan Podiatry at 203-263-9052 to book an appointment.