Foot ulcers are the most common diabetes complication, and it’s crucial to take them seriously as they’re the most common reason for diabetes-related amputations. If you have diabetes, it’s necessary to take special care of your feet.
Foot and ankle specialists like Dr. David E. Biss at Concord Podiatry are specially trained to prevent and manage the complications diabetes can have on the feet. As a podiatrist, Dr. Biss provides diabetic foot care to help patients keep their feet as healthy as possible.
Understanding how diabetes affects your feet
Sensory neuropathy and peripheral arterial disease are two of the most common health issues that affect the feet of people with diabetes.
Diabetic neuropathy damages the nerves in the feet, causing numbness and tingling. In some cases, patients experience scalding or stabbing pains in their feet, which are typically worse at night.
Peripheral arterial disease is characterized by damage to the medium and small arteries that nourish foot tissue with blood and oxygen.
How do foot ulcers happen?
Foot ulcers occur from decreased blood flow to the feet, which causes very slow wound healing. This means a small cut can quickly turn into a slow-healing sore that gets larger. To make things more complicated, reduced sensation means you may not realize that you have an injury to your foot.
This puts you at risk from everyday things like stubbing your toe, burning your feet in a hot bath, or developing a wound from the friction of poorly fitting shoes. You may not discover that you have an ulcer until you notice blood stains on your sock. By that time, the wound may have grown or become infected.
Foot ulcers are the leading cause of adult foot infections. The combination of ulceration, nerve damage, infection, and inadequate blood flow to the foot can cause major risks to the health of your feet.
Diabetic ulcers can become chronic wounds that persist for months or longer without proper intervention. In some cases, ulcers heal but recur in the same location. You’re at risk of developing another ulcer once you’ve already had one.
Specialized foot care is essential for safeguarding your foot and overall health. Reducing your risk of re-ulceration involves special shoes and insoles, diabetes education, and regular foot evaluations.
Preventing diabetic foot ulcers
Here are some of the ways you can take good care of your feet and prevent a diabetic foot ulcer.
Check your feet daily
If you have diabetes, make checking your feet a part of your daily care regimen. Checking your feet for signs of cuts, bruises, blisters, or redness can alert you to an injury so you can take action right away.
See a podiatrist regularly
Seeing a podiatrist is an important part of diabetic food care. At regular appointments, Dr. Biss can monitor your foot health, track any changes, and detect potential problems before they start or as early as possible.
Protect your feet
Wear shoes and socks, including while indoors, to protect your feet. Even something as minor as stepping on a pebble can create a wound that turns into a foot ulcer.
Choose the right footwear
Avoid wearing shoes with high heels or a narrow toe area and shoes that are too short or tight. Dr. Biss may recommend custom shoes or insoles that are made especially for patients at risk of developing foot problems.
Use an infrared thermometer
If you’ve had a foot ulcer in the past, consider using an infrared thermometer. This device can identify any potential "hot spots" of inflammation on your feet. Before an ulcer appears, skin temperature typically rises by a few degrees or more over the course of days or weeks.
Keep track of the readings from various areas of your foot so you notice changes, and contact Dr. Biss if you see an increase in temperature.
You don’t have to go it alone when it comes to taking care of your feet. Dr. Biss is by your side every step of the way in helping to prevent foot ulcers and can provide advanced care should an ulcer develop. Set up a visit with Dr. Biss by calling the office in either Plymouth or Concord, New Hampshire.