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Diabetic Foot Care

Today, the incidence of diabetes is on the rise, with the complications of this metabolic disorder representing one of the most challenging public health problems of the 21st Century. According to The National Diabetes Statistics Report, a periodic publication of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in the United States alone, over 34 million people, or more than 10% of the population, have diabetes. These numbers include both diagnosed and undiagnosed cases across all age groups. However, a closer look reveals the statistics are actually higher for adults. As it stands, 13.0% of adults 18 yrs. of age and older across the country have diabetes, with that number rising to 26.8% among those age 65 and over.

The overriding concern with diabetes is that the disease can have severe consequences to one's health and well-being when not adequately managed. Among other things, diabetes contributes to the development of heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, vision loss, dental problems, nerve impairment, and complicated medical issues in the feet and lower extremities.

For people with diabetes, even the smallest blister, sore, or cut on the foot can pose tremendous health risks. In reality, something as minor as irritation from a small pebble in a shoe can quickly progress from a wound that doesn't heal to a dangerous infection that can lead to amputation and even a life-threatening situation. The statistics are alarming. More than 60% of non-traumatic lower-limb amputations occur in people with diabetes.

At the office of Temecula Valley Podiatry, we provide the skilled and experienced podiatric care required to help prevent the onset of diabetic-related foot problems. We're dedicated to our patients' care and comfort and maintain a position at the forefront of advances in technology and treatment. With our comprehensive range of services, we do our utmost to help patients enjoy optimal foot health while providing care that supports their overall health and well-being.

The relationship between diabetes and foot health

Diabetes is a complex metabolic disorder that impairs the body’s ability to produce or use insulin effectively to regulate blood sugar levels. With diabetes, your cells are deprived of glucose, the energy source they require, while high levels of this sugar remain in the blood. Persistently high blood sugar has a detrimental impact throughout the body, leading to significant and even life-threatening acute and long‐term health complications.

While proper foot care is essential for everyone, it’s especially critical for people with diabetes. As a result of damage to the peripheral nerves and blood vessels in the lower legs and feet, minor issues can escalate to dangerous infections with severe consequences.

Even though there’s no cure as yet for diabetes, the condition can be managed. At the office of Temecula Valley Podiatry, we provide the diabetic foot care you need to protect your health.

Why peripheral neuropathy and peripheral arterial disease pose a significant risk to your feet, health, and well-being

  • Peripheral neuropathy - One of the primary sources of foot problems in people with diabetes is peripheral neuropathy. Recognized as the most common form of diabetic neuropathy, peripheral neuropathy first affects the feet and legs, followed by the hands and arms. The condition produces a range of symptoms, including numbness, a decreasing ability to feel pain or temperature changes, tingling, burning, sharp pains, cramps, or an increased sensitivity to touch.

    The consequences in the feet are particularly concerning. As nerve damage affecting the feet progresses, numbness and susceptibility to ulcerations of the skin increases. Due to the loss of sensation, an individual with peripheral neuropathy may not notice an injury to their foot until they have developed a severe infection—more than half of the people with diabetes experience mild to severe forms of neuropathy.

  • Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) - Having diabetes also puts one at risk for peripheral arterial disease. Although this condition can affect all the extremities, it most often involves the legs and feet.

    PAD occurs as fatty deposits build up along the inner walls of blood vessels, narrowing the arteries and decreasing blood flow to the legs and feet. According to statistics from the American Diabetes Association, one-third of people with diabetes over the age of fifty develop PAD.

    In addition to symptoms such as pain with walking, poor circulation can result in foot wounds that are slow to heal, one foot being much colder than the other, and an increased risk of developing gangrene. In severe cases, foot or leg amputation may be needed.

Let the office of Temecula Valley Podiatry help protect your feet from diabetic complications

To prevent, manage, and treat the consequences of diabetes requires the involvement of a multidisciplinary group of healthcare professionals. As foot infections and their complications are common and the leading cause of hospitalization for diabetics, our podiatrist serves an essential and integral member of your healthcare team.

Diabetes sufferers are especially prone to foot infections, with about 15 percent of those with diabetes mellitus developing a foot ulcer at some point in their lives. Furthermore, the non-traumatic loss of a toe, foot, or leg is most often due to diabetes.

Considering the higher risk of complications and the complex nature of care, the keys to avoiding diabetes-related foot problems are prevention, early detection, and prompt treatment.

If you have diabetes, it essential that in addition to maintaining a healthy blood sugar level and healthy lifestyle, you take the following steps to maintain foot health:

  1. See a podiatrist for periodic exams. Professional checkups and routine care not only help to avoid complex problems that threaten foot health, but also prevent consequences to your overall health and well-being.

  2. Inspect your feet on a daily basis. If any ulcerations, lesions, inflammation, redness, or nail problems develop, contact our office.

  3. Gently wash your feet daily with lukewarm water and thoroughly dry them. Keep in mind; peripheral neuropathy can make it difficult to tell if the water temperature is dangerously hot. Burns or blisters in a diabetic can readily lead to infections.

  4. Use a recommended moisturizer to keep the skin hydrated and supple. To avoid fungal infections, avoid moisturizing between the toes.

  5. To avoid ingrown toenails or injury, trim your toenails with care. Alternatively, our podiatrist can also do it for you.

  6. Don’t be tempted to perform a “bathroom surgery.” Let our podiatrist evaluate and treat your corns, calluses, and any other unusual bumps or lesions.

  7. Keep your feet warm and dry. Damp shoes, socks, and excessive moisture can increase your risk of infection.

  8. Always wear shoes or slippers to protect your feet from accidental cuts, scratches, irritations, hot sand, or pavement.

  9. Before you put on a pair of shoes, check the inside for any pebbles or sharp edges that may cause an irritation. Because diabetics can lose some feeling in their feet, it’s essential to make sure footwear is safe and object-free.

  10. Don’t smoke. In addition to contributing to other medical issues, smoking complicates circulatory problems, which further deprives your feet of the oxygen and nutrient rich blood they need.

  11. To avoid ingrown toenails or injury, trim your toenails with care. Alternatively, our podiatrist can also do it for you.

  12. Stay active and exercise. Be mindful of high-impact activities that may increase your risk of a foot injury. You can keep the blood flowing to your feet by remembering to wiggle your toes, periodically moving your feet around, avoid crossing your legs for too long a time, and elevating your feet when sitting.

  13. Speak to our podiatrist about special diabetic shoes and socks that provide enhanced comfort and protection and support healthy circulation. We’ll advise you on the right socks, footwear, and orthotics to help you walk better, cushion your feet, and redistribute pressure to prevent sores or callous formation.

Remember, if a lesion, redness, swelling, or irritating foot deformity are present, it’s essential to contact the office of Temecula Valley Podiatry for care. Our experienced podiatrist will provide the prompt treatment and guidance you need to resolve an infection, prevent it from worsening, and promote healing. We offer integrated care, partnering with your physician, vascular surgeon, infectious disease doctor, and other specialists as needed to get you back on the road to health.