Diabetics tend to suffer from foot problems. Without proper attention and care, a small injury can develop into an open sore (ulcer) that can be difficult to treat. Severe damage by infection may require toe, foot or even leg amputation.
- Nerve Damage One complication of diabetes is nerve damage or diabetic neuropathy. When the network of nerves in your feet is damaged the sensation of pain in your feet is reduced. Because of this, you can develop a blister or cut your foot without realizing it. Infection then sets in if the wound is not treated. A minor foot injury could become a serious infection, even leading to tissue death (gangrene).
- Reduced Blood Flow Diabetes can also narrow your arteries, reducing blood flow to your feet. With less blood to nourish tissues in your feet, it’s harder for sores to heal. An unnoticed cut or sore hidden beneath your socks and shoes can quickly develop into a larger problem.
The good news is that with proper diabetes management, careful foot care and new treatment methods, amputation may be preventable.
1) Improve Blood Circulation To The Feet
Vascular surgeons at Changi General Hospital in Singapore are using balloon therapy to clear blockages in blood vessels of diabetic patients. This form of angioplasty uses a drug-coated balloon that, when inflated within the artery, physically clears vessel for improved blood flow.
This form of therapy, also known as drug-eluting balloons (DEBs), have been used on more than 20 high-risk diabetics since last August and has produced promising results. What’s more, it works better than standard angioplasty in that there is minimal risk of scarring the arterial walls which could cause the arteries to re-narrow.
2) Low GI Diet And Regular Exercise
If you suffer from Type 2 diabetes, a low GI diet is necessary to prevent fluctuations in blood sugar levels. Regular exercise to keep your weight under control goes a long way in minimizing the risk of complications from diabetes.
3) Stop Smoking
Smoking reduces blood flow to your feet. Talk to your doctor to seek help to quit smoking.
4) Proper Foot Care
a) Wash your feet daily with lukewarm water. Dry your feet gently, especially between the toes. Sprinkle cornstarch between your toes to keep the skin dry. Use a moisturizing cream or lotion on the tops and bottoms of your feet to keep the skin soft.
b) Check your feet daily for blisters, cuts, sores, redness or swelling. Use a hand mirror to see the bottoms of your feet.
c) Keep your toenails short. Trim your nails straight across to prevent ingrown toenails. Go for professional nail trimming if you have trouble bending over. Do not use a file or scissors on calluses, corns or bunions to avoid injuring your feet. Avoid the use of wart removers. See your doctor or podiatrist for problem calluses, corns, bunions or warts.
d) Protect your feet with comfortable socks and shoes, even indoors to prevent cuts. Wear only shoes that fit well to prevent blistering.
e) Wear clean, dry socks. Avoid bulky or ill-fitting socks. Wear socks made from cotton and acrylic fibers that draws perspiration away from your skin. Avoid tight fitting socks made from strong tight elastic bands as this will reduce circulation.
f) Schedule regular foot checkups by your doctor to check for early signs of nerve damage, poor circulation or other foot problems. See your doctor immediately if you have a sore or foot injury that does not begin to heal within a few days. Whenever necessary, your doctor may refer you to a foot specialist (podiatrist).