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Diabetes Foot Care — Why People with Diabetes Need to See a Podiatrist Regularly

Diabetes Foot Care — Why People with Diabetes Need to See a Podiatrist Regularly

  By: Editors at DiabetesIQ  |  Published: March 15, 2021   
Published: March 15, 2021   

© Celso Pupo Rodrigues | Dreamstime.com


Everyone who has diabetes should have an annual foot check to prevent any serious problems resulting from having type I or type II diabetes. Diabetes is a systemic disease that affects different parts of the body, and as such, it may require different practitioners to treat or manage. Podiatrists play a vital role in managing foot health for people with diabetes and the prevention of amputations.

 

Why is diabetes affecting your feet health?

If you live with diabetes, you may experience foot complications due to the damage the disease is causing to the nerves in your feet and to blood circulation. Having diabetes increases the risk of developing foot problems that range from foot ulcers to amputations.

 

 Diabetes is more likely to cause damage to your feet if:

 

  • You have been living with diabetes for a long time;
      
  • You smoke, which reduces the blood flow to the feet while also slowing the healing rate of ulcers and wounds;
      
  • Your blood glucose levels have been high for a long period of time;
      
  • You have a very sedentary lifestyle.

 

What can you do to prevent diabetes related foot problems?

If you have diabetes, you should have your feet checked by a podiatrist every year. This is the best way to detect problems early on and prevent any future complications. You can also take measures to prevent problems by doing the following on a regular basis:

 

  • Check your feet every day for signs of redness or swelling;
      
  • Moisturize dry skin on the feet, especially cracked heels;
      
  • Wash your feet every day and dry them well.

 

There is also an extensive list of things to check regularly. If you see any of the following symptoms, it's essential to seek medical treatment right away.

 

  • Blisters
      
  • Broken skin between toes
      
  • Bruising or cuts
      
  • Callus
      
  • Corns
      
  • Cracked skin
      
  • Foot shape changes
      
  • Ingrown nail
      
  • Redness
      
  • Swelling
      
  • Ulcers

 

What are some other symptoms to look for?

Poor blood glucose control that is present in people with diabetes can reduce the supply of blood to the feet. As a result, people with diabetes are more prone to infections after sustaining an injury that breaks the skin. Some of the signs of blood supply problems that you should be on the lookout for include the following:

 

  • Feet feeling cold;
      
  • Pain in the feet even when you're resting;
      
  • Sharp cramps in the legs even after walking on very short distances'
      
  • Cuts that heal very slowly;
      
  • Feet looking bluish or reddish.

 

People with diabetes can also develop nerve damage to their feet because of poor blood glucose control. Some of the symptoms related to nerve damage that you should look out for include:

 

  • Cold legs;
      
  • Numbness;
      
  • Burning pain in the feet and legs;
      
  • Tingling or pins and needles sensation in the feet.

 

It's extremely important to pay close attention to these symptoms because they can lead to a loss of sensation in the feet. This increases the risk of damage because you won't be able to feel any pain. If you don't monitor these symptoms carefully, you may develop more severe complications, including chronic infections in the joints and bones that may eventually lead to the need for amputation.

 

Why is it important to go for routine check-ups?

It's essential to see a podiatrist on a regular basis, even if your feet aren't bothering you at all. Podiatrists specialize in the treatment of feet conditions and diseases, and they are typically the first to notice any diabetes-related issues.

In many cases, patients have limited mobility or nerve damage that doesn't allow them to see any developing issues on the bottoms of their feet. Your podiatrist will be able to assess your feet professionally and tell you how much you are at risk of developing a foot problem.

 

Your doctor will check for three risk levels that include:

 

  • Little to no risk — this means that you don't have any signs of diabetes-related issues on your feet are you only have something minor such as a callus;
      
  • Moderate risk — you may have signs of a food problem, such as a loss of sensation or a significant change in the shape of your feet;
      
  • High risk — you have signs of more than one problem, which includes ulcers and issues that may lead to the need for an amputation.

 

Your podiatrist will explain to you what your level of risk means and will be able to provide you with guidance on what to do next. If you have diabetes, it is important to know how to look after your feet at home according to your level of risk. Make sure that you book an appointment with your podiatrist anytime you develop signs of issues on your feet so you can prevent possible complications.


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