In an ideal world, everyone is born with 5 senses. The senses of smell, sight, sound, touch and taste. But individuals with high blood glucose and blood sugar levels often experience a loss of one of these unique senses. Damage to nerves and blood vessels greatly affects their sense of touch – in particular, the loss of feeling in their feet.
Foot problems and conditions affect the entire population, but they pose the biggest threat to diabetic individuals. Minor injuries can take a turn for the worst and escalate quickly when they go undetected. To prevent complications, examine your feet on a daily basis. Avoid potential life threatening problems by consulting the Advanced Foot & Ankle Specialists of Arizona today!
How Does Diabetes Affect My Feet?
Two common foot problems among diabetics include neuropathy and peripheral vascular disease. Neuropathy is essentially the loss of feeling due to damaged nerves. It affects the ability to feel pain, heat, or cold. More often than not, small cuts, scrapes, and sores will go unnoticed due to neuropathy. Because of this, approximately 10% of people with diabetes will develop aggressive foot ulcers. Further, it causes muscles to become damaged and misaligned.
Peripheral vascular disease affects the flow of blood throughout the body. When cuts and sores appear the body sends healing blood cells to the affected area. When an individual has peripheral vascular disease, this response time is slowed. Due to this process, diabetics are particularly at risk for developing gangrene and ulcers.
Diabetic Wound Care
When you have diabetes, sustaining a wound on your foot – no matter how small – can result in serious consequences. Because the disease compromises your immune system, in addition to inhibiting circulation and thus the healing process, even a tiny scratch can snowball into an infected ulceration. This is why diabetic wound care is of the upmost importance! Caring for wounds at the onset will allow you to avoid dangerous complications, including amputation, and live a full and active life despite living with diabetes.
Watch Out for Wounds
One of the main aspects of caring for diabetic feet is to be on the lookout for any type of wound that may occur. It’s vital that you check your feet every day for signs of trouble – scratches, cuts, blisters, or anything else out of the ordinary. That’s because nerve damage often associated with diabetes can allow an injury to happen without you even feeling or realizing it. Unnoticed and untreated, the wound can worsen and wreak havoc on your foot and overall health. Daily inspections are a must to catch problems early and get the prompt treatment you need!
Helping Ulcers Heal
When you come in with a wound on your foot, the first order of business is to clean the ulceration to protect against infection. This process is called debridement and entails flushing the wound with warm water and carefully removing any dead skin or debris. Medication is then applied to the ulcer, and a sterile dressing will be used to cover it. This dressing will need to stay clean and dry and will have to be changed regularly.
In addition, you will need to “off-load,” or in other words, avoid putting any weight or pressure on the wound. This can be accomplished by propping your foot up on some pillows, using a scooter or crutches, or possibly wearing a special boot.
Advanced Techniques and Treatments
There may be times when advanced treatments are necessary, but rest assured, we can provide the expert wound care you need! Our Chandler Wound Healing Center offers a wide range of healing techniques, from dressings and compression wraps to skin substitutes and grafts. We even offer hyperbaric oxygen therapy, which immerses the wound in a 100% oxygen, high-pressure environment to speed the healing process.
How Can I Care For my Feet?
It’s extremely important to show your feet some love.
- Feet should be closely inspected every day. Develop a keen eye for unusual scratches, cuts, bruising, and areas of warmth and red discoloration. Don’t forget to search between the toes!
- Wash your feet daily. Use warm water and mild soap. After washing, pat them dry with a soft towel and apply lotion to prevent harmful cracking.
- Choose appropriate socks and shoes. Socks should be made of cotton for they absorb the most perspiration. Avoid elastic bands and tight shoes that cut off circulation. A pair of custom orthotics might be just the thing to make sure undue pressure or friction is impacting your feet.
- Trim the toenails straight across and avoid cutting the corners. Avoid ingrown toenails at all cost. Use a nail file for edges close to the skin.
- Wiggle your toes, rotate your ankles, and keep those legs uncrossed. To increase blood flow to the feet, wiggle the toes for 5 minutes, 2 to 3 times a day. Any kind of exercise can also help increase blood flow and reduce symptoms.
- Avoid smoking and keep blood pressure and cholesterol levels within normal ranges.
If you are unable to examine your own feet, have a family member or podiatrist help you. Our team provides excellent care for diabetic feet. If you have diabetes, you should be seeing a podiatrist as lease once a year for a comprehensive foot exam.
Contact the Advanced Foot & Ankle specialists of Arizona today! Appointments can be made with our office by calling or faxing our Chandler location: (480) 963-9000.