If you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, there’s a lot to learn about managing your condition. Caring for your feet is part of that learning process. Dr. Kerry Berg, board-certified podiatrist of Intermountain Foot & Ankle Associates in Colorado Springs, Colorado, treats many patients with diabetes.
She explains why foot health is important and can help you prevent serious foot problems through education, routine diabetic foot care, and expert treatment of issues before they worsen. By becoming part of your medical team, Dr. Berg helps you maintain foot health.
You have a role to play, too. The American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons (ACFAS) recommends daily foot inspections to identify problems before they cause serious consequences.
Following are some of the foot conditions that can arise when you have diabetes. Knowing what to look for can help you recognize issues sooner rather than later and lower your risk of serious complications.
Diabetes places you at increased risk of peripheral neuropathy, or nerve damage in your feet. Signs of nerve damage include tingling, burning pain, or lack of feeling in your foot. Dr. Berg can recommend medications for symptoms that you can feel, but part of the danger of neuropathy in your feet is your lack of feeling there.
Diabetic neuropathy (nerve damage from diabetes) affects about 50% of all people with diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA). The condition can cause a loss of feeling in your foot so that you can experience an injury and not know that it occurred. The danger multiplies if you develop a blister or cut, which can put you at risk for infection.
If you have diabetic neuropathy and part of your foot is numb, you may not realize you have a cut or blister. A wound like that can turn into a dangerous infection called a diabetic foot ulcer, which is hard to heal.
Foot ulcers can be a very serious complication. If you ever develop a foot ulcer, there’s about a 1 in 5 chance that you could have to undergo an amputation. Only about 15% of diabetes patients experience a foot ulcer, and you don’t want to be in that group.
Foot ulcers commonly occur on the bottom of the feet. That’s why examining your feet on a daily basis is a critical part of diabetes self-management. If you do see a spot of blood on your sock, call our office for an immediate appointment.
If your blood glucose is high more often than not, diabetes can damage your blood vessels. A sticky substance called plaque accumulates, which slows blood circulation. You may develop a condition called peripheral artery disease (PAD), which means that the plaque is clogging your arteries. Signs of poor circulation include discolored toes, unexplained hair loss on feet and legs, excessively cold feet, and feet that often fall asleep.
With poor circulation, damaged blood vessels are unable to sustain healthy blood flow. Poor circulation means the blood flow to your extremities, including your feet, is greatly reduced, limiting your body’s ability to heal wounds on your feet and fight infection. These factors increase your risk of having a foot or leg amputation as a result of untreatable ulcers and infections.
Nerve damage can result in your body’s inability to produce sufficient oil and moisture. Very dry skin can result in bumps and blisters that can crack and become infected.
You’re also at more risk of developing thick calluses. When they break down, they can turn into ulcers and become infected. Always have Dr. Berg handle any calluses you may develop.
Dr. Berg can become a member of your trusted medical team and can help you manage your diabetes. Call our office or book an appointment online with Intermountain Foot & Ankle Associates today.