When you have diabetes, your feet need extra care and attention, even if they don’t hurt.
“We recommend that diabetic patients have foot screenings at least once a year,” said Dr. Jared Stanton, a podiatrist with Mercy Clinic Podiatry – Carthage. “Pain isn’t always a good indicator for a diabetic’s foot problems.”
Diabetes can affect the feet in several ways, according to Stanton, that often are tied to reduced blood flow. Symptoms include swelling, redness, a sore or wound and wound drainage.
Diabetes can damage the nerve endings and blood vessels in your feet, making you less likely to notice when your feet are injured. This is known as neuropathy and can be caused by high blood sugar.
Diabetes also can interfere with your body's ability to fight infection. If you develop a minor foot injury, it could become an ulcer or develop into a serious infection. Ulcers can be found on the bottom of your feet or on the top or bottom of your toes.
Treatment for diabetic foot conditions can progress from medicine to surgery to amputation in the worst case, Stanton said. With good foot care, however, you can prevent most problems and avoid treatment.
Caring for your feet is easy and starts with daily visual inspection and touch. Most of the care can be done when you are bathing and getting ready for bed.
Several steps can help keep your feet healthy:
• Inspect your feet at least once a day. Look at all areas of your feet, including your toes, using a handheld mirror or magnifying mirror, if needed. If you can't see well, have someone assist you.
• Wash your feet daily. Post steps for foot-washing and nail care in your bathroom. Refer to the steps when you wash your feet so they become a habit. Make sure you dry your feet and toes well before putting on socks and shoes.
• Wear shoes and socks that fit well. Soft shoes that have good support and that fit well are best. Wear socks that do not have seams.
• Protect your feet from injury. Before you put on shoes, check for objects or rough spots inside your shoes or objects pushing through the soles. Inspect your feet for blisters, cuts or scrapes after activities. Post a list of precautions to protect your feet in your closet near your shoes.
• Ask your doctor to check your feet during each visit. Write down any minor problems or questions you may have about foot care and take with you to the appointment.
• Get early treatment for foot problems. A serious problem can develop from what seems like a minor irritation. If a foot problem develops, you need to seek care early.
Stanton points out that following care tips are important for anyone, not just diabetics. By following these steps, anyone should be able to walk away from foot problems.
Mercy Clinic Podiatry – Carthage on the McCune-Brooks Campus, 3125 Dr. Russell Smith Way, can be reached at 417-556-2278. For more information on Mercy Diabetes Education - Cathage, call 417-359-8803.