Diabetic Foot Care
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 29 million Americans currently live with diabetes, including roughly 8 million individuals who are unaware they have the disease. If you, or one of your loved ones, are diabetic, it’s important to know about the relationship between diabetes and foot health. Understanding the disease, and especially the measures you need to take for effective diabetic foot care, makes a major difference in your health – one that can potentially even save your life.
Diabetes and Potential Complications
If you are diabetic, you likely know the disease comes with numerous implications for your health and well-being. These include matters like heart disease, kidney disease, pancreas malfunction, increased risk of heart attacks and strokes, and vision problems (even blindness!). Diabetes is obviously a serious medical condition. It’s important, though, not to overlook the effects this disease can have on the health of your feet.
With diabetes, your blood cells are unable to receive and process the glucose (sugar) necessary to function properly, especially with regards to having energy and being able to grow. Two major complications often accompanying diabetes that can lead to dangerous conditions in your feet are peripheral neuropathy and peripheral arterial disease (PAD).
To put it simply, peripheral neuropathy is another term for damaged peripheral nerves, which are the ones that branch out from the spinal column and extend throughout the body. When functioning correctly, these nerves enable you to move and experience physical sensations. Diabetes can damage these nerves and cause you to experience things like tingling, burning, or “electrical” pain that should not exist. Perhaps more concerning, peripheral neuropathy can also lead to numbness. The reason this is particularly alarming is the fact it becomes possible to sustain a wound without being aware it exists.
When neuropathy (nerve damage) is present and you are unable to feel things like a tiny cut or scrape, it will likely go untreated and can become infected, which could ultimately lead to an emergency room visit.
The other major complication frequently associated with diabetes is PAD. This is a condition of poor circulation that develops when blood vessels have become hardened and narrowed, thereby restricting the amount of blood able to flow to the extremities, especially the lower limbs. Your body relies on blood to provide nourishment to body tissue, especially when an injured body part needs to be repaired or an infection needs to be fought.