Why You Should Have a Podiatrist on Your Diabetes Care Team
Taking care of your feet is the cornerstone of living well with diabetes. Nearly 70% of lower limbs that are amputated each year in the United States are lost due to diabetes complications. When you have diabetes, you’re at an increased risk of complications that affect your feet. That’s why it’s important to partner with a podiatrist as part of your diabetes care team.
Our experts explain how diabetes affects your feet, and why you should consider adding a podiatrist to your care team.
Diabetes-related nerve damage endangers your feet
Keeping your blood sugar well-controlled is a vital part of protecting your feet from potentially dangerous complications. That’s because high blood sugar can damage your nerves, reducing their ability to send the appropriate signals to your brain.
Diabetic nerve damage, known as neuropathy, commonly affects the nerves in the legs and feet. When your body has trouble interpreting signals sent from your nerves to your brain, you can lose some sensation in your extremities, particularly your legs and feet.
This situation means you may not feel pain when you have a cut or sore on your foot, so you won’t know to care for the wound. An unattended foot injury is dangerous for a person with diabetes. It can quickly turn into a serious infection that requires immediate attention.
Here are signs of diabetic neuropathy to look out for:
- Tingling sensations
- Reduced pain sensation
- Sharp pains
- Reduced sense of temperature changes
Diabetes-related circulation problems harm your feet
When you have diabetes, you’re at an increased risk for peripheral artery disease (PAD), a condition where blood vessels become narrow. The blood vessels most often affected are those in the legs, feet, and toes. Because the arteries are narrow, blood has a harder time circulating throughout your body, resulting in reduced blood flow to your legs and feet.
PAD makes it harder for wounds to heal. This means if you bump or bruise your foot or a toe, a minor sore can take much longer than normal to fully heal, leaving you vulnerable to infection. Slow wound healing coupled with reduced circulation can raises the risk of tissue death. In severe cases, amputation is necessary.
Tell your doctor if you experience these symptoms of PAD:
- Mild to severe leg pain
- Changes in leg color
- Lower extremity sores
- Leg weakness
- Leg cramping
- Shiny skin on legs
How podiatrists help diabetes patients
Podiatrists are specially trained to treat problems of the lower legs and feet. They’re extremely familiar with diabetes foot complications and understand how small issues can turn into serious problems.
A podiatrist can often spot subtle signs of trouble and quickly treat infections and sores to prevent dangerous complications. As part of your care team, a podiatrist can also teach you how to check your feet and take care of them at home.
For people with diabetes, having a podiatrist as part of your health care team may reduce the risk of amputation and other serious complications.
With convenient locations throughout Wisconsin, the team at Family Foot and Ankle Clinic are experts at diagnosing and managing diabetes-related foot complications. For effective diabetes foot care, call the office nearest you or book an appointment online today.