If you are diabetic—and a sizeable number of Americans are (currently over 29 million, with another 84 million who can be categorized as “prediabetic”)—you have a lot of health concerns. The disease has wide-ranging effects on the entire body. As such, it’s easy to lose sight of how diabetes affects foot health. The truth of the matter, though, is that there are serious medical complications that can happen to diabetic feet!
As we explore diabetes and foot health, there are a couple of key areas of concern. You will see that these include neuropathy (nerve damage), peripheral vascular disease, and impaired immune function.
Nerve health is important for living a full life and being able to appreciate everything this world has to offer. They allow you to:
- Take in the natural beauty while hiking at any of our local parks;
- Catch inspiring performances at the Shuster Performing Arts Center;
- Or savor the delicious tastes and smells at the Pine Club (or one of the other fine restaurants in our Miami Valley).
Of course, your nerves do much more than contribute to the experience of living – they actually allow you to live in the first place. As such, it’s quite concerning when elevated sugar levels from diabetes cause damage to nerve tissues throughout the body, especially sensory nerves.
The sensation of touch can certainly contribute to enjoyable experiences—think for a moment about how it feels to hug a loved one or pet the family dog (which also releases stress-reducing hormones!)—but it also lets you know when a problem exists. For this reason, pain can actually be a good thing (as strange as that might be to consider).
It is certainly concerning to lose the ability to feel anywhere on your body. The feet, though, spend a lot of time covered by socks and shoes, plus they are physically the farthest points from your eyes. This means you need to rely on your sense of touch to know when problems develop in your feet. Compromised nerves take away that ability.
Being unaware of existing problems—like cuts, scrapes, ingrown toenails, blisters, and calluses—is further complicated by restricted blood flow. Your body relies on the circulatory system to keep blood flowing, thereby nourishing organic tissue and carrying antibodies to fight off infections. This means unattended wounds do not heal properly and increase infection risk. Over time, this can lead to serious medical complications known as diabetic foot ulcers – a leading cause of lower limb amputation.
We don’t want you to be at risk for diabetic foot ulcers (or any other complication from diabetes), so contact our Centerville, OH podiatrist office and request an appointment. One of our medical specialists can work with you to create a diabetic foot care plan that is based on actions you can take to keep feet healthy and safe. Call us today at (937) 435-7477 for more information or to schedule your appointment.