Diabetes is becoming more prevalent, mostly due to the increase in obesity. Diabetes affects the lives of nearly 26 million people in the United States and nearly seven million don’t even know they have the disease yet. Many times a podiatrist may be the first to diagnose diabetes due to foot numbness, a non-healing wound, or chronic infection of the foot.
Diabetes is the inability to manufacture or properly use insulin, and it impairs the body’s ability to convert sugars, starches, and other foods into energy. The long-term effects of elevated blood sugar (hyperglycemia) can lead to serious damage to the eyes, heart, kidney, nerves, and feet. This can affect the feet in particular due to peripheral artery disease (lack of circulation) and peripheral neuropathy (loss of feeling).
As a result of diabetes, the feet may become susceptible to a slew of problems, such as ulcers and wounds that do not heal properly, fungal infections, ingrown or brittle toenails, hammertoes, athlete’s foot, and cracked or dry skin. Poor blood flow can be caused by diabetes may lead to gangrene or tissue loss. Even everyday activities such as walking can cause issues in the feet of a diabetic, as the bones, joints, and skin are affected by the condition.
For the diabetic, proper and thorough foot care is crucial. Diabetics should check their feet daily for early detection of foot problems or injuries. It is important that diabetics seek podiatric care on a regular basis to prevent foot problems that can easily lead to more serious conditions. Diabetic shoes and insoles are used to manage pressures beneath the feet that could become ulcers. Our podiatrists will ensure proper foot care, from maintenance to the treatment of any developing problems. Any foot problem should be immediately addressed in a diabetic to avoid serious complications.
While there is no cure for diabetes, there is hope. With proper diet, exercise, medical care, and careful management at home, a person with diabetes can avoid the most serious complications and enjoy a full and active life.
If you are diabetic and an issue should arise, call our office immediately. Waiting a “few days to see what happens” before seeing someone may be the difference between a good and poor outcome. The sooner treatment is started the better. If you are diabetic and think you have a problem, call now for an immediate appointment.