Podiatrists see the effects of diabetes on feet first hand every day. Diabetes affects the glucose (sugar) levels in the body, and high levels of glucose can cause major damage to the body over long periods of time. Diabetes can affect the body in many ways, sometimes even robbing diabetics of their sight. In this three part series of blog posts we hope to identify the complications that diabetes, especially uncontrolled diabetes, can have on your feet.
Diabetic Neuropathy is nerve damage that is more common in people with uncontrolled diabetes, but can also affect diabetics with well monitored and controlled diabetes. Diabetic neuropathy damages the body’s nerves, often first presenting as a tingling or burning sensation in the feet. This can lead to a lack of sensation in the extremities referred to as “sensory diabetic neuropathy”. This means that if the diabetic injures their feet they may not feel it, and may not take the proper steps for an open wound. This can easily lead to an infection, which can be especially hard to control in a diabetic patient. Diabetics suffering from neuropathy should take extra care with their feet and never walk barefoot. Care should be taken to inspect feet daily to identify any small cuts or bruising, so they can be addressed by a medical professional as soon as possible. Which brings us to our next subject, diabetic ulcers.
An ulcer is damaged tissue that presents as an open wound that is often slow to heal. Ulcers are a very dangerous problem for diabetics because they are more prone to infection if they do not receive medical attention. It is most common for ulcers to form on the ball of the foot or the bottom of the big toe. As with diabetic neuropathy high blood sugar causes more complications with ulcers, making it hard for ulcers to heal. If an ulcer is present then you should seek out help from a medical professional, especially one with experience in wound care. Even under medical supervision diabetic ulcers can sometimes take weeks or even months to heal properly. Your podiatrist may prescribe medications and physical therapy to help with ulcers and prevent future ones from forming.
If you or a loved one is suffering complications of diabetes please contact your local podiatry office. Ankle & Foot Associates, LLC has 17 locations throughout Georgia and South Carolina to better serve our diabetic population.