Your Feet and Diabetes
Diabetes is a common chronic condition that can affect patients of any age, and which can raise your risk of other serious health complications if it is not carefully managed. The disease comes in three forms:
- Type 1, in which the body fails to produce insulin, the hormone your body uses to produce energy from glucose (sugar);
- Type 2, when your body becomes resistant to insulin, raising your blood sugar levels; and
- Gestational, a usually temporary condition of insulin resistance during pregnancy.
The abnormally high blood sugar levels that result from your body not properly processing glucose produce a number of classic symptoms, including excessive hunger and thirst, frequent urination, dry skin, unexplained weight loss, and blurry vision.
However, these aren’t the only physical signs of diabetes to be aware of. Diabetes can have significant negative effects on your feet and legs, so it is important to be aware of how the signs of this condition can manifest there.
Diabetics – What to Watch Out For
Diabetes can cause many systemic complications throughout the body, including nerve damage and circulation problems. When these occur in your legs and feet, the most common symptoms are:
Tingling in your feet: If you feel an unexplained sensation of tingling in your feet, this can be a sign of peripheral neuropathy or damage to the nerves outside of the central nervous system. High blood sugar levels, especially when they are uncontrolled over an extended period of time, can produce nerve damage, most often in the hands and feet. You may also experience neuropathy as a stabbing or burning sensation.
Lack of pain, even when injured: Another sign of diabetes-associated nerve damage is numbness or a lack of pain in the feet and legs. This can be particularly dangerous, as this numbness can make it more likely for you to injure your feet without realizing it and to delay your discovery of minor wounds until they have become worse.
Leg muscle pain while walking: Impaired blood circulation is another complication of diabetes. Diabetes increases your risk of developing peripheral artery disease (PAD), which narrows the blood vessels. One sign of this is pain in the leg muscles after walking or other exertion.
Frequent infections: High blood sugar and poor circulation slow the rate of healing. When these factors are combined with the lack of sensation in the feet that diabetics frequently experience, minor sores and ulcers are more likely to get infected, producing damage out of proportion to the seriousness of the original injury.
If you suspect that diabetes may be affecting your feet, don’t ignore your symptoms. Regular foot care can improve your comfort and prevent complications from developing.
The Importance of Proper Diabetic Foot Care
The caring professionals at Corona Foot and Ankle can help keep your feet healthy, whether you have been diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy in addition to diabetes or not. Our approach combines monitoring with education and preventative care, to promote long-term health and avoid serious issues.
At a minimum, diabetic patients should have a comprehensive foot examination once per year. Patients experiencing any of the symptoms listed above should be seen more often, as the onset of peripheral neuropathy or circulation problems puts them at higher risk for injury, infection, and even amputation. At your exam, your podiatrist will evaluate your foot sensitivity and circulation, as well as checking your feet for any blisters, ulcers, or other wounds in need of care. You should also consult your podiatrist if your foot is cut, bruised, or develops a corn or callus—early professional care can keep small issues from becoming larger ones.
In addition, we can prescribe medication to help alleviate the uncomfortable symptoms of neuropathy, give you guidance on preventative foot care to keep your feet healthy, and provide services such as nail trims to avoid potential problems such as ingrown toenails. Our goal is to keep you active and well while avoiding the worst potential complications of diabetes. To find out more about the individualized foot care at Corona Foot and Ankle, contact us here.