There are two effects of diabetes that have a major impact on the health and performance of your feet: peripheral vascular disease and diabetic neuropathy.
Peripheral vascular disease affects the way blood flows to and around your feet. The volume of blood circulating through your feet gets reduced, and with it goes the efficiency of the body’s self-repair mechanisms. Cuts and sores take longer to heal, increasing the chances of serious infection. Ulcers may develop and, without intervention, gangrene may set in as foot tissue dies due to lack of blood supply.
Diabetic neuropathy is nerve damage that results from high levels of blood sugar. Your feet no longer send normal signals of pain, so you may not be aware of cuts and injuries on your feet, and therefore these may not receive proper care. Nerves controlling foot muscles may also malfunction, creating alignment and balance issues.
As a result of peripheral vascular disease and diabetic neuropathy, an estimated 10% of diabetes sufferers develop foot ulcers. Regular foot care is crucial to prevent the advancement of diabetes-related foot problems.
Dr. Rosen is part of your diabetes management team. If you’re under treatment to control blood sugar and insulin levels, the progression of vascular disease and neuropathy is likely slowed or halted. But since the stakes are so high, annual exams with Dr. Rosen are an important part of diabetes care. He can spot foot problems in the early stages, which is particularly important if neuropathy impairs your ability to sense pain.
In addition to your annual check-ups, see Dr. Rosen if you experience any of the following:
Daily foot inspections are likely the best home care treatment you can perform. When something starts to change, you can make an appointment with Dr. Rosen immediately, to minimize the impact of the emerging problem.
Wash your feet daily with mild soap and dry them thoroughly. Don’t use creams or moisturizers unless directed to by Dr. Rosen. Always protect your feet by wearing socks and comfortable, supportive shoes.