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Can Your Diabetes Negatively Affect Your Feet?

A diagnosis of diabetes should come with a manual. There so much to learn about this disease, which seems to impact so many aspects of your life and various parts of your body. You know have to be more conscious about when and what you eat. But you may not realize that diabetes can negatively affect your feet.

You can prevent problems with vigilance and good medical care. After receiving a diabetes diagnosis, it’s a good idea to start a relationship with a podiatrist. The team of doctors at Hoosier Foot & Ankle has years of experience helping diabetics. We work with you and the rest of your health care team to create a self-care plan that includes foot care. A combination of everyday awareness and strong communication can keep your feet healthy for years to come.

Diabetes and your feet

According to a study conducted by the American Diabetes Association, over 50% of all foot amputations in the US are related to diabetes. The majority of amputations occur after diabetes-related complications have been able to grow or spread unchecked.

This statistic isn’t meant to scare you, but it stresses the importance of ongoing diabetic foot care. Diabetes generally damages your feet in two ways: diabetic neuropathy and peripheral vascular disease.

Diabetic neuropathy  

When you hear about diabetes-related neuropathy, it’s usually peripheral neuropathy, which affects your hands and feet before moving to your arms and legs. Researchers have found that, over time, uncontrolled high blood sugar damages nerves and interferes with their ability to send signals through your nervous system. It also starves your nerves of the oxygen and nutrients they need to survive.

With diabetic neuropathy, your fingers and toes may go numb or develop a tingling feeling. In some cases, burning or stabbing pain may also occur.

Why diabetic neuropathy is dangerous

All foot injuries may hurt or sting, but they’re much more dangerous when you can’t feel them. Pain helps you realize you’ve been injured as well as the extent of an injury.

Diabetics suffering from neuropathy face two hurdles here: noticing that an injury has occurred and caring for that injury so it heals. Check your feet daily for any wounds, and keep track of the ones that do occur. Just because you can’t feel an injury doesn’t mean it won’t lead to pain or an infection later on.

There are a variety of preventive measures and treatments for diabetic neuropathy, from washing your feet daily to special shoes or a drug regimen. The doctors at Hoosier Foot & Ankle with work with you to find a plan that fits your needs.

Peripheral vascular disease

Diabetes causes the blood vessels that feed your feet and toes to narrow and harden. This reduces the amount of blood that can reach these areas. This is the point where neuropathy and vascular disease combine to cause problems.

For example: You get a cut on the bottom of your foot. If you're diabetic, you may not feel the cut and it could go unnoticed. Your body tries to heal the cut but can’t get enough blood to the injured area, and an infection occurs as the wound doesn’t heal.

This is an extreme example, but it does happen. Infection can lead to gangrene, the term for tissue death due to a lack of blood flow. Amputations may be required to stop the spread of gangrene.

Diabetes does negatively affect your feet, and managing your foot health is a key part of your diabetic self-care plan. Staying on top of blood sugar levels goes a long way in preventing problems. Diabetic neuropathy and peripheral vascular disease are at their most fearsome when blood sugar levels become a roller coaster ride.

At Hoosier Foot & Ankle, we’re well-versed in diabetic foot care, and our doctors can work with you to manage the disease and its impacts. You can avoid or delay any diabetic-related foot issues through self-care and a strong relationship with our team. Give us a call or request an appointment online at any of our convenient Indianapolis-area offices today.

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