If you have diabetes, chances are pretty good that you’ve been overwhelmed with people telling you about all the things you should and shouldn’t do. Bottom line is, you must pay attention to your overall health, and caring for your feet is a big part of it when you are living with diabetes. Why is caring for your feet so important? Because diabetes puts you at risk for a common foot problem to turn in to a serious problem.
One of the most common reasons for a person living with diabetes to be admitted to the hospital is because of a complication from a foot problem, such as an ulceration (wound) or infection. Both conditions can lead to amputation. In fact, an article published in the American Journal of Managed Care in November 2018, states that every day in America 230 people with diabetes will have an amputation and 85% of them started with a diabetic foot ulcer.
The good news is that proper foot care including regular foot exams, early detection and comprehensive treatment of problems when they arise can really help prevent foot ulcers. Our doctors are very aware of the serious consequences of diabetic foot problems and know how to help prevent and treat them.
CiC’s APPROACH TO DIABETIC FOOT CARE:
Your visit begins with a complete history and foot evaluation. The doctor will examine your feet, review your history and listen to your concerns. From there, they will create an individualized care plan, which may include x-rays and other diagnostic testing, to determine the course of your care. We gather all of this to get a baseline and to be able to care for you in the best way possible.
As part of the CiC team, our podiatrists work closely with interventional radiologists who are specially trained to treat the underlying cause of circulation problems, which are a major reason for diabetic complications. If there is no blood flow, wounds won’t heal, legs will hurt, and nerves will die. These long-term effects may be avoided if blood flow is restored.
This team approach leads to improved outcomes and better lifestyles for patients.
Proper diabetic foot care begins with awareness. It starts with you being proactive in your care and always checking your feet. This means both the top and bottom, and even between your toes. If you can’t bend to see the bottom of your feet, use a mirror or ask someone to look for you. A tip so you don’t forget, is to do it at the same time every day, like after you shower or before you go to bed.
Feel for: Areas that seem warmer than the area next to it
Areas that seem warmer that the same spot on the other foot
If you notice any changes or something doesn’t look right, you should call us right away at 602-954-0777.
Other reasons to call include:
Pain – Persistent pain in your legs or feet is not normal. Pain is your body’s way of telling you something is wrong.
Reduced quality of life – If you notice that when you walk you need to stop and rest frequently because your legs hurt, you may be suffering from intermittent claudication, a circulatory problem.
Infection – Swelling, redness or warm areas can be early signs.
Numbness, burning or tingling – These sensations are warning signs for poor circulation or neuropathy.
Night-time foot and/or leg cramps.
Cramping in your calf muscles when walking that goes away with rest.
Ingrown nails – These are the leading cause of diabetic foot infections. You should not attempt to treat this problem on your own.
Dry skin – Scaly skin, cracks and fissures can be painful and put you at risk.
Corns, calluses and hammertoes – These all need care by a doctor. If you suffer from any of these, regular visits to our office can help manage them.
Muscle weakness and/or Loss of balance – Report any weakness to your doctor.
Injury – If you suffer from an accident, cut or burn, you need to seek medical aid. Something that appears minor, could have serious complications that may be avoided if treated when the injury occurs.
Some of our best advice to all patients, including those with diabetes, is to STOP SMOKING! Smoking accelerates damage to your legs and feet and harms your blood vessels and nerves. It is a major cause of poor circulation and neuropathy. Smoking delays healing.
Top 5 Benefits of Stopping Smoking
1 day your chance of having a heart attack begins to fall
2 days your body is nicotine free
3 days you’ll breathe easier and have more energy
4 months your lungs are stronger and clearer
5 years your risk of stroke and cervical cancer are the same as a non-smoker
Advice from Dr. Hassan Makki, interventional cardiologist with CiC
A hammertoe gets its name from the way it looks. It occurs when the joint bends causing the tip of the toe to hit the ground, making the toe look like a hammer. It happens when there is an imbalance in the muscles, tendons or ligaments that keep the toe in place. Tight shoes can be a cause by keeping a toe bent and holding it in one position for long periods of time. The muscles tighten and don’t stretch out, deforming the toe.
As time goes on, pain may develop deep in the toe joints and even the ball of the foot, limiting walking, exercise or even just standing comfortably.
There are many forms of treatment for this problem. It starts with shoes that have a soft, roomy toe box. Surgery may be needed if that does not provide relief. The goal of surgery is to restore normal alignment and function of the toe joint to help relieve the pain.
IMPORTANT: If you have diabetes, you should see your foot doctor at the first sign of any problems with the skin of your feet or toes, no matter how minor you may think they are. Patients living with diabetes who develop foot problems require special attention.