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Diabetes and Your Feet


Diabetes is a condition where the amount of glucose in the blood is too high because the body cannot use it properly. This is mainly because the pancreas does not produce enough insulin to help glucose enter the body’s cells. The other reason for this could be that the insulin that is produced by the pancreas does not work properly, a condition known as insulin resistance.

One of the many problems of diabetes is foot complications. Neuropathy, a condition where there is nerve damage, can cause tingling, pain that include burning or stinging, or weakness in the foot. Sometimes, a diabetic patient may even experience loss of feeling in the foot. Due to the complications, patients do not feel sores and blisters, which can lead to the foot becoming infected. Sometimes, nerve damage leads to foot deformities, changes in muscles, bones and the shape of the feet.  Healthcare providers might recommend special therapeutic shoes, as it would be painful to force deformed feet and toes into regular shoes.

Poor fitting shoes can lead to foot ulcers. Ulcers usually occur at the ball of the foot or on the bottom of the big toe. Though some ulcers do not hurt, it is best that the doctor see every ulcer right away. Neglected ulcers can lead to more serious complications such as infections, which can result in the loss of a limb. Always control your blood sugar level as high blood sugar levels make it hard to fight infection. After the ulcer heals, treat the foot carefully. Scar tissue of the healed wound breaks down easily. It is best to wear special shoes after the ulcer is healed to protect and prevent ulcer from returning.

Orthopedic insoles isolated on white background
Orthopedic insoles isolated on white background

Because diabetic patients experience poor circulation that can make the foot less able to fight infection and heal, it is advisable to control some of the things that cause poor blood flow. It is best to quit smoking as smoking causes arteries to harden faster. The doctor will advise patients to keep blood pressure and cholesterol under control.  Do some exercises, as they can boost and improve poor circulation. It stimulates blood flow in the legs and feet. Make sure to wear good-fitting and comfortable shoes and do not walk when the feet have open sores. Some patients feel pain in their calves when walking fast, up a hill or on hard surface; a condition known as intermittent claudication. Stopping to rest for a few moments should end the pain.

A diabetic patient would also experience longer healing time when it comes to sores and infection. This is because of the poor blood flow to the legs and feet through the blood vessels. Sometimes a bad infection never heals. An infection to the foot might cause gangrene. Prompt attention to any sore or infection on the toe or foot can prevent this from happening. The doctor may decide to cut away infected tissue or give antibiotics. If these treatments do not work, an amputation may be necessary. Amputation – a surgery to cut off a body part – of the toe, foot or part o the leg will be done if patients have severe pain or infection.