Diabetes and Your Feet: Healthy Feet, Healthy You
By Evelyn Heigh, DPM, Summit Medical Group Arizona
Associate, American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons
Fellow, American College of Foot and Ankle Orthopedics & Medicine
November is National Diabetes Mellitus Month, a time when communities across our country come together to bring attention to diabetes and its impact on over thirty million Americans.
It is important to take good care of your feet, especially when you have diabetes. Diabetes can put the health of your feet and legs at risk. The best way to prevent these risks is to make sure your diabetes remains well controlled with a healthy lifestyle and any medications your provider prescribes.
Over time high blood sugars can damage the blood vessels and nerves in the feet leading to reduced sensation in the feet. When this happens, it may be hard to notice a minor issue like a blister or cut that can eventually lead to more serious complications. Additionally, decreased blood flow to your feet and numbness may slow healing time in patients with foot problems. The combination of loss of sensation and blood flow makes diabetes the main cause of nontraumatic loss of a toe, foot, or leg. A great deal of these problems can be prevented with daily foot care and maintaining good control of your blood sugars.
In spite of these increased risks, there is very good news. There are simple steps you can take to keep your feet healthy and strong!
- Check your feet every day for cuts, redness, swelling, sores, blisters, or any change in the skin or nails.
- Visit your podiatrist at least once a year. Your foot doctor will perform a thorough exam that includes checking foot sensation and blood flow.
- Never go barefoot. Always wear shoes and socks or slippers, even when inside to avoid injury.
- Wear shoes that fit well. For the best fit, try on new shoes at the end of the day when your feet swell the most.
- Wash your feet every day. Use warm (not hot) water. Dry your feet completely.
- Don’t remove corns or calluses yourself.
- Keep the blood in your feet flowing. When sitting, put your feet up on a footrest. Wiggle your toes and move your ankles.
Think about all the places your feet take you each day. Avoid problems by taking simple steps to keep your feet healthy