Diabetic Foot Care
If you’re one of the 30 million Americans with diabetes, the health of your feet and ankles is extremely vulnerable. Poor circulation means that even the smallest cuts, injuries, and infections can lead to serious life and limb issues. Meanwhile, failing nerve health makes it harder to detect injuries in the first place.
At Northwood Foot and Ankle Center, we take diabetic foot health extremely seriously. Daily self-exams and regular checkups and care are highly effective at preventing the most serious complications, but you need to stay disciplined. Allowing problems to go unattended for too long could cost you your limb—or your life.
What Are the Possible Consequences of Diabetic Feet?
Diabetic foot complications are incredibly serious. Five-year mortality rates for people with a diabetic foot ulcer can rival some forms of cancer. Daily prevention and immediate intervention when issues crop up are critical if you want to continue living a long, healthy, active life.
Blood flow is already relatively low in feet and toes, even among the healthy. Diabetes slows this even further. As a result, your body is less able to close wounds, fight off infecting agents, and repair damaged tissues. Even a small cut could fester, producing an infection that can reach the bone and may eventually need to be amputated to prevent further spreading.
Uncontrolled blood sugar also acts as a toxin for nerve tissue, leading to phantom pain, tingling, and numbness in the extremities. In the most serious cases, you may be totally unable to feel a blister, cut, or even broken bone in your foot. With no warning signals reaching your brain, it may take hours (or even days) for you to realize you need treatment, and in that time more damage is caused.
Our Preventative Care Services for Diabetic Feet
We strongly recommend anybody with diabetes and a history of foot problems visit our office for a checkup once every two months. During this time, we’ll test you for any emerging trouble signs, such as poor circulation or nerve function. We’ll also provide any regular maintenance care you may need, including toenail trimming, dealing with corns and calluses, etc.
We may also recommend diabetic shoes and socks, and can fit them for you in our office. Diabetic footwear is specially designed to reduce the risk of cuts and scrapes, provide extra depth and width to accommodate orthotic inserts, and minimize shear and strain on sensitive skin. Wearing diabetic footwear regularly helps feet avoid many of the common complications that can have lasting repercussions.
Wound Care and Limb Salvage
Because of the serious nature of diabetic foot complications, we do everything in our power to accommodate our diabetic patients immediately. If you notice any problems, please call our office and identify yourself as a patient with diabetes so we can see you as soon as possible.
We provide in-office wound care for diabetic foot ulcers. This includes cleaning out your wound, applying necessary medications or antibiotics, bandaging the wound, and providing whatever tools you may need to keep weight off the feet for the duration of the healing process.
If infections become serious, you may need a more extensive surgical procedure to contain the damage. We specialize in diabetic limb salvage to preserve or reconstruct a functional limb. This gives you the best possible chance at maintaining full activity even after significant damage from a diabetic infection. However, occasionally amputations are inevitable. The sooner you seek help, the better your odds.
The Best Diabetic Foot Care Happens at Home
While your visits to our office are extremely important, it’s what you do in the weeks between appointments that matters the most. Develop healthy habits at home:
- Eat a healthy diet and drink plenty of water
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Exercise regularly
- Examine your feet every day for cuts, scrapes, skin irritations, or other injuries and problems.
- Test your sugar regularly and manage it within a healthy range
- Book an appointment with us at the first sign of trouble—not once has the problem become too great to ignore.