Comprehensive Diabetic Foot Care
Living with diabetes requires careful attention to your body to keep your health optimized and prevent the many complications of this disease. Diabetes can damage many organ systems in the body but can be particularly destructive on the eyes, kidneys, and feet.
Foot care is an essential part of a comprehensive diabetic treatment plan, but this involves more than just visual inspection of the feet for problems. It includes assessing and monitoring blood flow, nerve health, bone health and skin condition to help prevent potentially devastating problems in the future.
Dr. L. David Richer and our staff at the Foot, Ankle & Leg Center have a comprehensive approach to diabetic foot care. We have the resources and technology to assess for underlying problems, and are happy to serve as part of your overall diabetic care team.
How Diabetes Can Affect Your Feet
Diabetics who do not keep their blood sugars under control tend to have more frequent and more severe complications from their condition. Even diabetics who are well controlled can suffer from vascular, neurologic, orthopedic and dermatologic complications of the feet.
The feet might not initially seem like a prime target for the effects of diabetes, but several complications can occur.
Vascular complications: Circulation to the feet can become impaired or blocked. It is already somewhat of a challenge to have blood reach our feet compared to other parts of our body, simply due to our feet being the body part furthest from our heart. As diabetes damages our blood vessels, the feet tend to be the first body part to suffer.
Restricted or reduced blood flow to our feet means our cells have less oxygen, nutrients and healing factors required for repair and maintenance. This is called peripheral arterial disease, or PAD, and means injuries to your feet can take longer to heal. In severe cases, a wound might not heal at all without improvements in the blood flow to the foot.
Neurologic complications: Diabetes can damage the nerves in your feet and legs, also known as neuropathy. As the nerves deteriorate, they are unable to properly transmit signals of sensation (pressure, vibration, temperature and pain) to the brain. This might first result in tingling or pain but can eventually result in numbness.
NEUROPATHY AND PAD IS A VERY DANGEROUS COMBINATION! When numbness is severe enough that you do not feel an injury on your foot and it does not hurt, you will continue to put weight on it and further damage the tissue. Due to the reduced blood flow, the injury is unable to repair itself. Frequently because it does not hurt and/or goes unnoticed, treatment is delayed. This can result in a wound or ulcer that becomes infected and may progress to the point where an amputation is required.
Orthopedic complications: walking on a numb foot due to diabetic neuropathy can cause the foot and ankle bones to weaken and fracture, called Charcot arthropathy. This can result in improper alignment of the bones in the feet or a misshapen foot which can be prone to developing wounds or ulcers, often on the soles of the feet.
Dermatologic complications: ulcers or wounds of the skin of the feet can occur in diabetics who have neuropathy and/or bony deformity to the feet. These wounds are prone to infection, especially if not cared for.
Our office can provide thorough treatment for diabetic wounds, but we also wish to help our patients avoid them in the first place.
Diabetic Foot Care Starts Now
Even if your feet feel fine at this point in time—and we hope they do—there is no time too soon to have a thorough evaluation and begin preventative diabetic foot care. Attention you pay to your feet now may very well prevent future complications.
Call us at (480) 629-5903 to schedule an appointment at our Scottsdale office. You can also submit questions and appointment requests to ouronline contact form below, if you prefer, and a member of our staff will respond during office hours.