November is National Diabetes Month and a good opportunity for some reminders about caring for your feet if you have diabetes. While diabetes is a disease which affects many parts of the body, it has the potential to cause serious health issues for your feet. At Edmond/Norman Foot & Ankle Clinic, we want you to know how to prevent them. Here are the big 3:
- Neuropathy Approximately 60-70% of diabetics have some form of nerve damage. While this damage or neuropathy can be painful and cause a burning or tingling sensation in your foot, it can also have the exact opposite effect—reducing the sensation in your foot. The problem here is that you may not feel pain that would signal a problem. Your foot may be rubbing in your shoe and you wouldn’t notice it or you might step on something and not realize it cut your skin. Once the skin is open, bacteria can move in and cause a dangerous ulcer to develop. Nerve damage can also cause your feet to change shape, which may require special shoes. Preventive tip: Always inspect your feet daily so that you can see redness, sores, cuts, and other potential problems that you might not be able to feel.
- Ulcers If an ulcer does form on your foot it needs immediate medical attention regardless of whether it hurts or not. Ulcers can lead to life and limb-threatening infections. Your foot doctor will have a number of different strategies for treating the ulcer. You’ll need to stay off your feet until the ulcer heals. Even after healing, you should treat your foot with great care as scar tissue under the healed wound can easily break down and start the cycle all over again. Preventive tip: Wear shoes that are roomy and don’t rub or put pressure on any part of your foot, which could cause a blister or sore that can turn into an ulcer.
- Circulation Poor circulation is another part of diabetes. Reduced blood flow means a harder time fighting infections and longer healing times. One symptom of poor circulation is cold feet. As tempting as it may be, don’t use heating pads or hot water to try to warm them up because the lack of sensation can make it easy for you to burn them. Preventive tip: Don’t smoke—smoking further constricts blood flow and can lead to hardening of the arteries. Exercise regularly as you are able to. It improves circulation, especially in the legs and feet.
If you notice any changes in your feet, make an appointment with the podiatrist as soon as possible. Our board certified foot and ankle surgeon, Dr. A Bil Buksh has been educating Oklahoma City patients on preventive care for diabetic foot issues for many years. Your foot doctor is your partner in making sure your feet stay healthy. To learn more about how to prevent diabetic foot problems, contact either our Edmond or Norman office today.