At Superior Foot & Ankle Care Center, we know that diabetes can affect your skin, joints, and bones in a number of ways. Two conditions associated with the disease—peripheral arterial disease (PAD) and neuropathy—are of particular concern when it comes to your lower extremities. PAD is a narrowing or blocking of the arteries to your legs, which can lead to poor circulation. This means that nutrient and oxygen-rich blood necessary for healing cannot reach your legs, feet, and toes as quickly as needed. Neuropathy is nerve damage that can result in loss of feeling in your feet, which makes it difficult to perceive pain and injury. This double whammy means that patients with diabetes are at a higher risk for a host of podiatric problems, including:
- Ulcers and wounds that do not heal properly
- Fungal infections
- Ingrown toenails
- Corns and calluses
Difficulty healing can cause even minor foot and toe problems to become major threats with the potential for infection and even amputation. Below are some ways you can be proactive in preventing foot problems if you have diabetes:
- Control your blood sugar. Follow all your doctor’s instructions for managing your diabetes. Watch your diet, take your medications as directed and regularly test to make sure you are on track.
- Schedule regular podiatric checkups. Our podiatrists, Victoria M. Foley or Dr. Constance Ornelas, will work with you to prevent potentially dangerous foot issues. Seeing the foot doctor regularly will increase the chances of catching injuries and infections in their very early and most treatable stages. The podiatrist can also help with nail care, wound debridement and diabetic footwear and orthotics.
- Keep feet clean, warm, and dry. Wash daily and dry thoroughly—especially between your toes. Use a foot powder before putting on socks.
- Make sure shoes fit correctly. Avoid styles that have narrow toe boxes are that are made of very stiff materials. Keep the heel height to 2 inches or less.
- Don’t walk barefoot. This dramatically increases your chances of getting athlete’s foot or a fungal toenail infection, which are contracted by direct contact. You are also more likely to step on a sharp object and injure your foot without shoes.
- Conduct regular self-exams—it’s important that between appointments you are checking your feet and toes daily for any signs of rashes, cuts, blisters, bruises, growths or other indicators that a foot problem is developing. If you can’t see your whole foot as a family member or caregiver to assist you. Contact our Long Beach office immediately by calling (562) 420-9800 if you find anything concerning.