How Could Diabetes Hurt My Feet?

November is Diabetes Awareness month and for people with diabetes, having too much glucose or sugar in their blood for an extended period of time can cause serious complications, including problems with your feet. You will have to start taking special care of your feet so that injury and amputation can be avoided.

Diabetes and your feet are of serious concern from diabetic neuropathy to peripheral vascular disease.

Diabetic Neuropathy

If your diabetes is uncontrolled, your nerves get damaged. Damaged nerves in your legs and feet may not seem like a significant concern, but it could cause:

  • Total numbness of your foot
  • Stop feeling sensations of heat or cold
  • Start experiencing pain

This feeling is called “sensory diabetic neuropathy.” It’s not the numbness that causes the problems; it’s more the possibility of a cut you don’t even know is there getting infected. Damaged nerves in your legs and feet can also cause the muscles of your foot to stop functioning correctly. If this happens, your foot will not be able to align correctly and could create too much pressure in one area of your foot. Foot ulcers occur because of nerve damage and peripheral vascular issues. Around 10% of people with diabetes develop foot ulcers.

Peripheral Vascular Disease

The second foot-related problem that diabetes can cause is peripheral vascular disease, a disorder that affects your blood flowing away from your heart and into your arms and legs. Reduced blood flow also changes the way your body responds to healing infections. If your blood flow is getting in the way of healing an infected cut, you are at risk of developing gangrene.

Even common foot problems that have nothing to do with diabetes can lead to more debilitating problems. If you have untreated diabetes and one or more of the following you are at serious risk of developing an infection and extra difficult complications:

Athletes Foot

A fungus that causes redness, cracking and itching invites germs to enter through cracks in your foot skin, potentially causing an infection.

Fungal Infection (Nails)

If your nails are infected with a fungus, they may become discolored (yellow-brown or opaque white). Your nails may also become thick and brittle, and could even separate from the rest of the nail, or even crumble. Your shoes are a dark, moist environment that could cause a fungus to thrive. If you have an injury to your nail, it could put you at risk of fungal infection. Avoiding a fungal nail infection is important because they are stubborn and difficult to treat.

Other issues, like calluses, corns, blisters, bunions, dry skin, foot ulcers, hammertoes, ingrown toenails, and plantar warts can be made worse by diabetes.

Taking proper care of your feet is vital! Taking care of your health plan for your diabetes is so important. Wash your feet with warm water daily, and dry them thoroughly. Do not soak your feet. Check them every day for any problems. Keep dryness away with lotion, but do not put lotion or cream between your toes. Check and trim your toenails once a week, cutting straight across and smoothing the end with a nail file. Wear shoes with closed toes– no sandals or barefoot, even in your house. Always wear socks or stockings. Put up your feet when sitting, and wiggle your toes and ankles. Do not smoke, as smoking makes blood flow problems worse.

Schedule an appointment with you Top10MD podiatrist today.