If you or a loved one has diabetes you’ve probably caught on pretty quickly that living with diabetes is all about being vigilant about your health and your blood sugar level. Nearly every system in your body may be affected by diabetes, such as your heart, your eyes, and even your feet.
Did you know that every 17 seconds an American is diagnosed with diabetes? Equally sobering is the fact that every day 230 people in the United States have to undergo an amputation. That’s a pretty scary prospect for the 34 million Americans who have diabetes.
Dr. Jarna Rathod-Bhatt and Dr. Rahul Bhatt, our skilled podiatrists at Apple Podiatry Group, are here to tell you that just because you have diabetes doesn’t mean that serious foot issues are inevitable. You can take steps to stay healthy while living with diabetes, which includes taking care of your feet.
Diabetes and the risk of foot wounds
A good place to start this conversation is to address how diabetes and foot health are related. Essentially diabetes can create a perfect storm of circumstances that pu your feet at risk from foot ulcers. And that’s important because more than 4 out of 5 amputations start as a foot ulcer.
Diabetes compromises blood circulation and nerve function, leading to compromised healing. Typically when your body recognizes an issue like an infection or wound, it swings into action and the natural healing process kicks in. Healing happens because blood vessels deliver oxygen and nutrients to the wound through the bloodstream.
However, if you have diabetes, you’re more prone to poor circulation so healing takes longer, allowing the wound to worsen. For some patients a wound can turn into a foot ulcer.
Further complicating that issue is that diabetes impairs nerve function, so the message to the brain alerting you to an injury may not happen. You may have a sore or wound and not notice it right away, allowing it to worsen or become infected
Familiarize yourself with these three signs of a diabetic foot wound so that you can be vigilant about your foot health.
1. Blood or drainage in your socks
For many people with diabetes who lack the sensation of pain, their first sign that they have a wound may be when they take off their shoes and socks and discover a discharge, pus, or blood in their socks.
A good way to address this is to check your feet on a daily basis. Look for blisters, cracks, cuts, or any type of broken skin that could lead to an infection. Don’t forget to check out your ankles and the soles of your feet as well.
2. Skin changes
Another telltale sign that you may have a diabetic foot wound is skin discoloration. Depending on what’s going on and the severity of the issue, your skin may appear to have red streaks, or it can take on a gray, white, blue, or red hue.
There may also be warmth and swelling, and the skin may even feel thicker around the ulceration.
3. A sore that just won’t heal
Many patients are alerted to diabetic foot wounds when despite their best efforts to treat a stubborn sore, blister, or crack in the skin, it just won’t heal. Don’t take a wait-and-see attitude when it comes to even the most minor injury. Seek treatment right away because what may seem minor today can easily turn into a dangerous situation tomorrow.
In addition to thorough daily at-home inspections and care for your feet and ankles, we recommend regular foot examinations with us as part of a diabetic foot care protocol.
If you’d like to learn more about comprehensive diabetic foot care, contact us at Apple Podiatry Group for a consultation. Book an appointment through this website, or you can call one of our offices in Arlington or Irving, Texas.