We’ve all heard the horror stories of what can happen to a diabetics feet. Too many of us know a friend or relative who has lost a toe, or even an entire foot, to the effects of diabetes. As podiatrists we see the harm that diabetes can do to a patient’s feet all too often. However, if a diabetic has regularly scheduled visits with a podiatrist then these harmful impacts are often far less severe, and usually entirely avoidable.
Preventive care for diabetics should be conducted on a regular basis. Podiatrists conduct comprehensive foot examinations in which several evaluations will be performed. The podiatrist will record your blood glucose level as well as your hemoglobin A1C, and will then move on to a neurological foot evaluation.
For a neurological foot evaluation the podiatrist will perform several tests. Most doctors will perform a common test called the monofilament test, where a small single piece of nylon thread is applied to the foot to test if the diabetic has any loss of sensation in the foot. If lack of sensation is noticed then the patient is recommended further testing to determine if they are suffering from a condition called diabetic neuropathy.
The next part of a diabetic foot exam is a footwear evaluation, in which the podiatrist will examine the diabetics shoes to look for signs of wear, as well as to determine if the shoes are properly protecting the diabetics feet. If the shoes are found to be inadequate then the podiatrist will recommend proper diabetic shoes, which can also often be ordered and fitted through the podiatrists office.
Next the podiatrist looks at the skin and nail health. They are looking for any potential ulcers on the foot that could lead to wounds and dangerous infections. Also, they are observing both the skin and toenails, as these can be an indicator of overall body health. Because of a diabetics weakened immune system they are more likely to contract a nail fungus, or even athlete’s foot.
Finally the podiatrist will evaluate the feet for vascular problems. The appearance of swelling or varicose veins will prompt the physician to recommend a follow up appointment in which to conduct further testing on the vascular system.
It may seem like a lot, but this examination all takes place in about 30 minutes. These regular exams are important for diabetics who want to lead a happy and healthy life. So if you or a loved one is suffering from the effects of diabetes then make an appointment with your local podiatrist, your feet will thank you for it. The doctors and staff at Ankle & Foot Associates, LLC are ready to help get you back on your feet again at any of our many locations in Georgia and South Carolina.
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