The feet are said to be mirrors of our general health and can reveal diabetes warning signs such as numbness, redness, swelling, or non-healing wounds. Making at least two appointments a year with a podiatrist, the foot and ankle expert, to have your feet examined is a critical step in avoiding diabetic foot complications and amputation.
I have been diagnosed with diabetes. What types of foot complications could I possibly experience?
You may experience the following symptoms:
- a loss of feeling in your feet
- a change in the shape of your feet
- foot ulcers or sores that do not heal
Keeping your blood glucose (sugar) in good control, taking care of your feet every day, and visiting a podiatrist regularly can help you avoid serious foot problems.
What are the warning signs of foot problems from diabetes?
As neuropathy (numbness) often makes it difficult to feel sensation in the limbs, waiting for pain in the feet to detect problems is not an option if you have diabetes. Chief warning signs to look for include irritation, redness, cracked and dry skin (especially around the heels), and drainage on socks. If you experience any of these symptoms, you should be evaluated by a podiatrist.
What are diabetic ulcers, and how can I prevent them?
Diabetic ulcerations are often one of the first signs of complications from diabetes in the lower leg. These ulcers (or sores) can stem from a small wound or cut on the foot that is slow to heal. If left untreated, ulcers can grow larger and become harder to treat successfully and can lead to amputation. However, if discovered early and treated by a podiatrist, many ulcers can be healed successfully without resorting to amputation.
Are other lower limb complications from diabetes preventable?
Most diabetic complications in the feet and legs are completely preventable! Regularly “knocking your socks off” and receiving a medical foot examination from a podiatrist can decrease your risk of a lower limb amputation by as much as 80 percent.
Is there a special kind of footwear available for those with diabetes?
Yes—certain types of shoes, socks and custom orthotics are all created especially for those with diabetes. People with diabetes should never go barefoot, and making sure to keep feet protected can reduce the risk of cuts and scrapes of the feet that can lead to complications. Many podiatrists also participate in a special therapeutic shoe program that certain patients with diabetes may qualify for. For a list of diabetic footwear that has the APMA’s Seal of Acceptance, visit www.apma.org.