If you are diagnosed with diabetes, you can almost guarantee it will change many things.
It will likely change your best recommendations for diet and exercise. It will likely change your daily routine and the way you approach certain events.
And it should also change the way you look at your feet.
We understand that changes can seem overwhelming at first, and it’s easy to not pay that much attention to something that may very well not look to be in danger. If your feet feel fine, why worry about them now?
However, this isn’t quite the best perspective to take on your care. While problems should absolutely be addressed if and when they happen, the best investment you can make in your future health is taking steps now to lower your chances of those problems happening in the first place.
Fighting the Tide of Diabetes
One of the trickier problems with diabetes is that its effects tend to creep up slowly over time. Effects can progress so slowly that you can enter into a troublesome situation without realizing it. Think of it like the mythical frog in a pot, with the heat slowly turning up.
Your feet are especially vulnerable areas for this slow progression. This is largely due to two effects that tend to happen.
First, diabetes can interfere with circulation to your feet.
Now, circulation to the feet is already a challenge for everyone compared to other parts of the body, given how far the feet lie from the heart. Not only that, but there is often a long, upward battle against gravity to pump blood back to where it started.
Diabetes can begin to constrict circulation throughout the body by damaging and narrowing blood vessels. When this happens, however, the feet tend to be the ones that feel it first.
You might notice your feet getting colder more quickly, but the more worrisome effect is a reduction in the ability of your feet to heal from wounds and injuries.
Our blood carries the nutrients and growth factors our cells need for repair, so a reduction in circulation is a lot like a delay in materials to a construction site. Wounds will heal more slowly, and sometimes not even heal at all unless they are given some outside attention.
Second, the nerves in the feet can become damaged as well. This can lead to feelings of pain and tingling as the nerves’ normal transmission of signals is interfered with. But even worse, it can lead to total numbness in the feet.
Together, these two effects can have outright devastating consequences on your feet over time. Even a small cut or scratch on your foot can become trouble if it has a hard time healing. Combine this with not being able to feel when a wound exists on your foot and it makes things even worse. You could be stepping repeatedly on an injury, causing it to grow larger and deeper, until it becomes an ulcer.
The risks of infection also rise, and with it the risk of very serious conditions. Some may require hospitalization, or even the loss of a foot or limb.
These cases unfortunately happen, but it is also very easy to avoid situations from becoming this severe. It mostly takes a small investment of time and attention.
The Best Thing You Can Do for Your Feet with Diabetes
There are plenty of ways to help manage and improve your diabetic foot care, and these options should absolutely be explored with us or another professional!
That said, if there’s only one thing you do for your feet if you have diabetes, it should be this: inspect your feet every day for signs of trouble.
Even if your feet feel perfectly healthy and functional now, making a daily self-inspection a habit will make sure you’re doing it in the future when problems might become more prevalent. And by then, you’ll have a really good picture of what should and shouldn’t be happening with your feet, too!
Choose a convenient time each day for your evaluation. This can be right before bed, when you wake up in the morning, or when you get out of the shower. Just make sure it’s tied to something you do every day.
Take a few moments to look over your feet, top and bottom. If you have trouble seeing all of each foot, try using a hand mirror or even selfie stick to get a good vantage point. You may also be able to recruit a loved one to help you with the task. Also, do not be afraid to feel gently against your feet as well.
You are searching for any abnormalities. These can include:
- Cuts or sores
- Corns or calluses
- Ingrown toenails
- Signs of fungal infection (dots, streaks, or discoloration in your toenails, or rashes on your skin)
- Discoloration in general
Basically, anything that is new or shouldn’t be there is worth raising a red flag!
If you see something, give us a call. We can advise you on the best steps to take next, which might involve simply keeping an eye on things to see if they change, or coming in for some treatment. Either way, we have a record of what is happening to your feet and can use it to recommend changes that can help further lower your risks of trouble.
Are You In Need Of A Diabetic Foot Care Specialist?
If you're diabetic and are sufferring from foot issues you should speak with an experienced diabetic foot care specialist as soon as possible. Please contact us online to schedule your appoinment or call one of our convenient El Paso offices directly. To reach our Sierra Tower Building podiatrist office please call 915.533.5151. You can find driving directions here. To reach our George Dieter Drive podiatry office please call 915.856.3331. Driving directions are available here.