Millions of Americans have diabetes: a chronic metabolic condition that changes the way glucose works in the body. Glucose is your body’s primary source of energy, and it comes primarily from the food you eat.
Having diabetes means your body can’t utilize glucose properly. Instead of being converted to energy, it stays in your blood and elevates your blood sugar.
Diabetes affects your body — and your health — in a variety of ways. It’s linked to an increased risk of chronic health issues, like high blood pressure, heart disease, and obesity, but many people are surprised that it can also cause foot problems.
Diabetic foot problems are common, and without the right care, they can quickly become severe. At Medical Associates Of North Texas, our doctors specialize in diabetes management. We offer personalized care to help you manage your condition and avoid common diabetes foot problems.
Common diabetes-related foot problems
People with diabetes are more likely to experience foot problems than people without diabetes. A few of the most common issues are:
When you have diabetes, your blood sugar is difficult to control. Blood sugar that’s too high damages the blood vessels that connect nerves in your body over time. This damage, known as diabetic neuropathy, is permanent and it reduces your ability to feel sensations.
About 50% of people with diabetes have some level of neuropathy. Neuropathy can develop almost anywhere in your body, but it’s especially common in feet. It often starts with tingling or pins-and-needles sensations, and it can be painful. Eventually, you may lose all sensation in your feet.
Diabetes can make the blood vessels in your legs and feet get narrower and harder. Narrow blood vessels restrict blood flow to your feet, resulting in poor circulation. Nerve function also plays an essential role in blood circulation, so people with neuropathy often suffer from poor circulation too.
Having poor circulation means your feet may not get all the blood, oxygen, and nutrients they need. Your feet might be cold or painful, and injuries may be slow to heal.
Neuropathy and poor circulation can be a dangerous combination for people with diabetes. Loss of sensation means you’re less likely to notice if you get a cut, scratch, blister, or other sore. Reduced blood flow makes your body heal slower, and your risk of infection increases.
About 10% of people with diabetes develop diabetic foot ulcers, or slow-healing foot wounds. These wounds require specialized wound care to promote healing and manage infection. If untreated, a diabetic ulcer may get so serious that you need amputation to prevent infection from spreading to the rest of your body.
Caring for your feet when you have diabetes
If you have diabetes, regular checkups are essential for your health. Our team provides customized diabetes care that includes medication, weight loss management, lifestyle changes, and more.
Keeping your diabetes well-controlled helps you avoid or minimize side effects, including neuropathy and foot problems. If you have existing diabetes complications, we work with you to manage your symptoms and prevent issues from worsening.
The American Diabetes Association recommends routine foot exams for people with diabetes. At Medical Associates Of North Texas, our team examines your feet and asks about any symptoms you’re experiencing. We pay particular attention to signs of wounds, and we offer advanced wound care for people with slow-healing wounds.
Along with professional care, make a habit of examining your feet daily. Wash and dry them thoroughly, trim your toenails properly, and wear comfortable, supportive shoes. Avoid soaking your feet for long periods of time or walking barefoot.
Having diabetes increases your risk of foot problems, but there’s a lot you can do to maintain your best health. Send our team a message online or call our office at 972-433-7178 to book a diabetes appointment today.