Severe Foot Related Complications From Diabetes And How To Treat Them

If you have diabetes, taking care of your overall health and monitoring your blood glucose is essential to optimal healthy living. According to the American Diabetes Association, diabetes is an endocrine disease that affects over 29.1 million people in the U.S. It occurs when your body does not produce enough insulin or doesn't use the insulin properly—resulting in abnormally high blood sugar levels. Your legs and feet are two areas of your body that can be directly affected by diabetes. One major concern with uncontrolled diabetes is infected wounds, especially in your feet, that may be difficult to heal. Here are some foot-related conditions that should be closely monitored by your doctor. 

Diabetic Neuropathy

With uncontrolled diabetes, the rising blood glucose in your body can directly affect your vital organs. Your eyes, kidneys and nerves can suffer severe irreversible damage. One condition that is concerning is diabetic neuropathy. This is where the nerves in your body, especially your those in your legs and feet, can become numb and affect your ability to feel pain properly. Neuropathy is concerning because you could have an underlying injury that you can't feel right away, because of the numbing and tingling sensation of the affected area. Routine visits with your foot and ankle doctor and keeping your blood glucose levels in the normal range—between 70 and 130 mg/dl before meals—can help avoid complications from diabetic neuropathy.  


Keeping your weight within the normal range for your height and body type reduces the chances of foot complications from diabetes. If you're obese, it's much harder for your vital organs such as your pancreas to maintain normal blood sugar levels. Added weight can add stress to the bone structure of your ankles, feet and legs. This makes you more susceptible to bone breakage and foot strain. Your foot doctor may take x-rays to check for breakage and recommend specialized diabetic socks and footwear to help support your bone structure.  


Having your feet checked by a podiatrist on a regular basis can help detect underlying issues resulting from your diabetes. This includes weakened areas of your foot or ankle resulting from poor circulation that may be prone to open sores. An open sore on your foot, leg or ankle increases your risk factor for gangrene. Gangrene forms when the blood supply to the affected area is cut off or diminished. This makes it difficult, or in some cases impossible, for your foot to heal properly. This is a serious medical complication and should be treated right away by a foot and ankle surgeon along with your family medical doctor.

Foot Ulcerations

If you've noticed visible changes to your feet, such as sores that won't heal or sores that become frequently infected, it could be a foot ulceration. Many people with diabetes also have peripheral arterial disease or PAD. PAD reduces blood flow to the feet and other areas of the body, which makes sores harder to heal. You can avoid severe complications, including amputation, by keeping blood sugar levels within a normal range and seeing your doctor routinely.

Many diabetic skin concerns can be managed with the right medical care. This will reduce your overall risk for having to have foot issues and surgery in the future. Working with your doctor to stay healthy is the best way to avoid foot complications from diabetes. For more information, contact a professional like Brian K. Doerr, DPM, PA, FACFAS.