While diabetes and resultant high blood sugar can lead to eye problems, heighten your risk for cardiovascular disease, and promote renal failure, it can also cause problems with your ankles and feet. While many diabetic-related foot problems resolve once tight control over blood glucose levels are regained, some problems may be permanent. Here are three ways your diabetes may warrant a visit to your foot doctor, and what you can do about them:
Diabetics are at risk for developing toe infections and slow wound healing. This is why it is important to make an appointment with your podiatrist for routine foot care. This even includes having your toenails cut. Improper toenail trimming can be dangerous to a diabetic, especially if the nails are improperly cut or if the skin gets nicked during the process.
If you cut your toenails and accidentally nip your skin, rinse your toe under cool water and apply a dab of over-the-counter antibiotic ointment over the wound. Also, if you develop pain, swelling, redness, feelings of warmth, or if you notice drainage coming out of the wound, see your foot doctor right away. These are signs of infection and will need prompt treatment.
Diabetics often have poor circulation in their legs, ankles and feet. Because of this, they can develop a condition known as a stasis ulcer, which if not recognized and treated quickly, can lead to extensive tissue, nerve, and muscle damage, as well as bone destruction.
If left untreated, stasis ulcers can eventually become so infected that gangrene can set in. While often treatable, gangrene can lead to loss of limb in certain patients, especially people with preexisting medical conditions, the elderly, and those with poorly managed diabetes.
Neuropathy refers to numbness, tingling, and pain in the feet or hands. It is often causes by the poor circulation of diabetes but is very treatable. If you noticed a pins and needles sensation on the soles of your feet, or if you experience excruciating stabbing pains in the arch or your foot or in your toes, or if you feel as though there is a stone in your shoe when you walk, make an appointment with both your family physician and your foot doctor. These are symptoms of diabetic neuropathy, and your doctors will need to check your blood glucose levels and develop a treatment plan to help manage your foot neuropathy.
If you have diabetes, work with both your family practitioner and your podiatrist (like those at Laurel Podiatry Associates, LLC). When you partner with both healthcare professionals, you will be able to develop an effective. treatment plan to help manage your diabetes mellitus, as well as any diabetic-related foot problems.