There are a few words that aptly describe diabetes, namely systemic, chronic, and far-reaching. And the problem has now been called one of the largest healthcare crises of the 21st century, as 10% of the population in the United States has already succumbed to the condition, and this number increases by 5% each year. While diabetes can have a widespread impact on your health, your feet are of particular concern as diabetic neuropathy in your feet is the most common complication, affecting 50% of sufferers.
At City Podiatry, our team of board-certified podiatrists understands the clear and present danger of foot problems among our patients with diabetes. This is why we offer specialized diabetic foot care, allowing our midtown Manhattan patients in New York City to stay one step ahead of their foot health.
Here’s a brief look at how diabetes can affect your feet and what we can do to help.
Diabetes and your feet
At its core, diabetes is a problem in which your body has a hard time regulating the levels of glucose in your bloodstream. This develops in one of two ways: You don’t produce enough (or any) insulin and/or you become insulin-resistant (insulin is the hormone responsible for regulating your blood sugar levels).
The end result of this regulation problem is that glucose levels can build up dangerously in your blood, which leads to damage to your blood vessels. Because of this, your body has a more difficult time getting oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood to where it needs to go. The effects of this are especially felt in your feet, where blood has to fight both distance and gravity.
The most common diabetic foot problems
Far and away the most common diabetic foot threat is neuropathy (nerve damage). Also called peripheral or diabetic neuropathy, this condition develops as a result of high levels of blood sugar and fats (triglycerides) in your blood, which can irreparably damage your nerves.
As we mentioned, the prevalence of diabetic neuropathy is 50% among people with diabetes, which makes the complication a very real concern.
There are other foot problems that tend to affect those with diabetes more frequently because of the vascular and nerve damage, such as:
- Corns and calluses
- Fungal infections
- Ingrown toenails
Even if these conditions don’t directly stem from diabetes, they warrant extra care because of the compromised nerve and vascular health in your feet.
Addressing diabetic foot problems
The most important thing you can do to protect your foot health is to be aware of the potential dangers and have us address any problem at the first signs of trouble. There are many preventive measures you can take (which we’ll get to in a minute), but you should also seek our counsel any time you experience any of the following:
- Pain, numbness, or tingling in your feet
- Ulcers that don’t heal
- Any breach in your skin, even from a fungal infection or warts
- Changes in skin temperature
In fact, when you have diabetes, you’d do well to keep up with your regular appointments with us so that we can monitor your foot health for any potential problems. The fact is that the earlier we intervene, the better can stop serious and life-changing outcomes like gangrene and amputation.
Taking steps to prevent diabetic foot problems
One of the best ways to offset your risk for diabetic foot problems is to take preventive action, which includes:
- Inspecting your feet daily for any changes
- Gently washing and drying your feet daily
- Wearing shoes that don’t crowd your feet
- Keeping your feet dry and protected at all times
- Using custom orthotics
- Regular visits to City Podiatry
Of course, topping this list should be regulating your blood sugar levels adequately.
With our help and experienced oversight, we can help you better safeguard your foot health if you have a diabetes diagnosis. Simply give us a call at 917-810-4204 or use our easy online scheduling tool to request an appointment.