Diabetes complications include nerve damage and poor blood circulation. These problems make the feet susceptible to ulcers that can worsen quickly and are often difficult to treat. Proper diabetes management and careful foot care can help prevent foot ulcers that may lead to an amputation. When foot ulcers do develop, it’s important to get urgent care. A non-healing ulcer that causes severe damage to tissues and bone may require amputation of a toe, foot or part of a leg. The best strategy for preventing complications of diabetes is proper diabetes management with a healthy diet, regular exercise, blood sugar monitoring and compliance to a prescribed medication regimen. Proper foot care will help prevent problems with your feet and ensure medical care when problems occur.
Tips for proper foot care include the following:
Inspect your feet daily. Check your feet once a day for blisters, cuts, cracks, sores, redness, tenderness or swelling. If you have trouble reaching your feet, use a hand mirror to see the bottoms of your feet, place the mirror on the floor if it’s too difficult to hold.
Wash your feet daily. Wash your feet in lukewarm water once a day. Dry them gently, especially between the toes. Use a pumice stone to gently rub the skin where calluses easily form. Use lotion on your feet to keep the skin soft.
Don’t remove calluses yourself. To avoid injury to your skin, don’t use a nail file; nail clipper or scissors on calluses, corns, bunions or warts. See your doctor or foot specialist for removal of calluses.
Trim your toenails regularly. Visit your local podiatrist to get your nails cut regularly.
Do not walk barefoot. To prevent injury to your feet, don’t go barefoot, even around the house. Protect your feet with shoes. Avoid open toe shoes.
Wear clean, dry socks. Wear socks made of fibers that pull moisture away from your skin, such as cotton and special acrylic fibers, not nylon.
Buy shoes that fit properly. Buy comfortable shoes that do not fit tightly and that provide support and cushioning. Avoid narrow shoes that cramp your toes. If one foot is bigger than the other, buy shoes in the larger size. Your doctor may recommend specially designed shoes that fit the exact shape of your feet and cushion your feet to reduce the pressure.
Don’t smoke. Smoking impairs circulation and reduces the amount of oxygen in the blood. These circulatory problems can result in more severe wounds and poor healing. Talk to your doctor if you need help to quit smoking.
Schedule regular foot checkups. Your podiatrist can inspect your feet for early signs of nerve damage, poor circulation or other foot problems. Contact your doctor immediately if you have a foot sore that doesn’t begin to heal within a few days or other persistent problems with your feet. Your doctor will inspect your foot to make a diagnosis and prescribe the appropriate course of treatment.
When the condition results in a severe loss of tissue or a life-threatening infection, an amputation may be the only option. A surgeon removes the damaged tissue and preserves as much healthy tissue as possible. After surgery, you’ll be monitored in the hospital for a number of days. It may take eight weeks for your wound to heal completely because with diabetes the healing time is slower than usual.
Even after amputation, it’s important to follow your diabetes treatment plan. Eating healthy foods, exercising regularly, controlling your blood sugar level and avoiding tobacco and alcohol can help you prevent additional diabetes complications.
If you are located in Monmouth/Ocean county area make an appointment today at Affiliated and Foot and Ankle Center to have one of our foot and ankle specialists help you manage your diabetes to prevent a life changing amputation.