If you or someone you know is among the more than 34 million Americans who have diabetes, you’ve probably had a conversation or two with your doctor about the importance of taking care of your feet. The scary word “amputation” may have also come up during the conversation.
Every day, 230 Americans with diabetes undergo an amputation. But that sobering statistic doesn’t have to include you. The thought of losing a toe, foot, or leg is definitely scary, but the real takeaway is that it’s not inevitable. Your daily behaviors and how well you manage your diabetes and your overall health will ultimately determine your risk for losing a limb.
At Apple Podiatry Group, our podiatrists Dr. Jarna Rathod -Bhatt and Dr. Rahul Bhatt share their advice and insights on diabetic foot care so that you can live a full, active life on your own two feet.
Being vigilant about your health may prevent amputations
There’s a lot you can do to be as healthy as possible while living with diabetes. The key circumstances that converge to create the risk of amputation are poor circulation and nerve damage, which lead to the inability to heal quickly. Taking care of yourself helps prevent these problems.
There’s a lot you can do to manage your diabetes and protect your feet. Here are a few tips:
If you smoke, quit. Smoking worsens blood flow, particularly in small blood vessels like those in your feet and toes.
Manage your weight
You can make good choices when it comes to eating healthy and exercising to help maintain a healthy weight, which helps control your blood pressure, cholesterol level, and your diabetes.
When you have high or uncontrolled blood pressure or cholesterol, you’re at higher risk for developing peripheral artery disease, which narrows or blocks blood flow to the lower legs and feet. This dangerous condition can lead to infections, hard-to-heal ulcers, and ultimately gangrene or amputation.
Wear comfortable, well-fitting shoes
This tip is simple but important. Make sure your shoes fit well and are comfortable. We’ve all made that “fashion over fit” mistake and gotten blisters or sores because of it. Blisters and sores may seem like a minor thing, but if you have diabetes, these little wounds may not heal well.
Typically when you have a cut or blister, your body swings into action to deliver healing resources to the area through the bloodstream. But when you have diabetes, and circulation is impaired, the healing process takes a lot longer while the wound progression quickens. So a scratch or cut on your foot quickly can go from a minor wound to a foot ulcer.
Further complicating matters is that a person with diabetes often also has impaired nerve sensitivity, so they may not always know they have a wound right away. In fact, an estimated 14-24% of people who are diabetic and get a foot ulcer need to undergo an amputation.
Wash and examine your feet daily
Once a day, and every day, give your feet a thorough once-over. Check for cuts, blisters, cracks, or any breaks in the skin that could get infected. Don’t forget to check your ankles and use a mirror to examine the bottoms of your feet and between your toes.
When you’re finished, wash and dry your feet. Complete the process by applying moisturizer to lock in moisture to prevent cracking. Skip moisturizing between the toes though, as that’s a popular area for fungal infections.
Living with diabetes is all about vigilance in your healthy habits and commitment to your overall health. If you’d like to learn more about diabetic foot care, book a consultation by clicking the online booking feature. Or you can call one of our Apple Podiatry Group offices in Arlington or Irving, Texas, to schedule your diabetic foot care exam.