Diabetic Foot Problems

According to the American Diabetes Association, about 15.7 million people (5.9 percent of the United States population) have diabetes. Nervous system damage (also called neuropathy) affects about 60 to 70 percent of people with diabetes and is a major complication that may cause diabetics to lose feeling in their feet or hands.

Foot problems are a big risk in diabetics. Diabetics must constantly monitor their feet or face severe consequences, including amputation. With a diabetic foot, a wound as small as a blister from wearing a shoe that’s too tight can lead to a lot of damage. Diabetes decreases blood flow, so injuries are slow to heal. When a wound is not healing, is at risk for infection and infections spread quickly in diabetics.

When a diabetic foot becomes numb, it may be at risk for deformity. One way this happens is through ulcers. Small, unattended cuts become open sores, which may then become infected. Another way is the bone condition Charcot Foot. This is one of the most serious foot problems diabetics face. It warps the shape of the foot when bones fracture and disintegrate, and yet, because of numbness there is no pain, and the individual continues to walk on the foot. Our practice can treat diabetic foot ulcers and early phases of Charcot (pronounced “sharko”) fractures using a total contact cast and prevent more serious damage or deformity. This treatment allows the ulcer to heal by distributing weight and relieving pressure. For Charcot Foot, the cast controls foot movement and supports its contours. 

If you have diabetes, you should inspect your feet every day. Look for puncture wounds, bruises, pressure areas, redness, warmth, blisters, ulcers, scratches, cuts, and nail discoloration. Get someone to help you, or use a mirror.

Here’s some basic advice for taking care of diabetic feet:

Contact our office immediately if you experience any injury to your foot. Even a minor injury is an emergency for a patient with diabetes.