Last reviewed by Editorial Team on August 13th, 2018.
What is Diabetic foot?
This is a foot that has any problems that result directly from diabetes. There are many different things that can happen to a foot when a person has uncontrolled blood sugar levels. Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects approximately six percent of the population. When a person has diabetes their body is either producing less or no insulin, which is a hormone that helps your body to deal with sugar, also known as glucose, in your diet. This is considered Type 1 diabetes. If your body’s tissues are resistant to the effects of diabetes this is considered Type 2 diabetes.
Diabetic Foot Symptoms
When you have type 1 diabetes it can cause many different symptoms. This type of diabetes is also referred to as diabetes mellitus. Some of the symptoms associated with this type can include:
- Having a constant sensation of heat or a burning in your foot which also includes tingling or stabbing sensations.
- Redness and swelling of the foot or leg(s) because of an infection
- Weak, achy muscles in your thighs, shin, or feet
- If you have motor neuropathy, it can cause you to walk with a limp or feel unbalanced. If this happens you could cause your foot rub against the inside of your shoe repeatedly resulting in the formation of diabetic foot ulcers, calluses, and inflamed skin.
- When a diabetic has autonomic neuropathy it can cause a diabetic’s sweating mechanism to be altered resulting in cuticles and toenails to be dry and thick.
- You may have chills and a fever as the result of a bacterial or fungal infection.
- If you experience numbness in your foot it could be a sign of having damage to your nerves.
The main cause of having a diabetic foot is because of out of control blood glucose levels. When your blood glucose levels are too high for a longer period of time or fluctuate between high and low it can result in damage to the nerves of your foot. This is called “peripheral neuropathy” and often the damage that is done to your foot goes unnoticed. If you have poor circulation it can affect the ability of your body to heal.
Other causes can include
- Infection – If you have a sore or sores on your feet they may not heal up slowly or not at all causing an infection in your foot that could result in amputation if gangrene sets in. Being a diabetic you are more prone to bacterial and fungal infections.
- Joint and muscle pain – when the muscles of a diabetic are affected it can cause the tendons to become stiff and contract. This process not only causes pain in your muscles and joints but can also cause problems trying to balance yourself when walking.
At this time there is no known cure for diabetes but you can control it to help prevent diabetic foot. You can control it by taking prescription medication and over-the-counter pain medication. This type of medication will also help with the inflammation. When you are having a lot of pain in your foot your physician may have you rest more often, elevate your foot, and reduce the movement of your foot more often. One of the most important things to remember in taking care of diabetic foot is to carefully monitor your blood glucose levels along with the daily examination of your foot. Doing this can not only help prevent problems but can help take care of any diabetic foot problems you find during your daily examination of your foot.
You also need to make sure that you are maintaining a healthy lifestyle and eating a well balanced diet. Talking to your diabetic physician can help you know what you should and should not eat and how many calories you should have on a daily basis. It is important that you also exercise each day, even if it is just around the block a couple of times. If you do not want to walk along start a walking club in your neighborhood.
It is very important that you take care of your feet to prevent having a diabetic foot. Here are the things that you need to do to help prevent diabetic foot.
- Using lukewarm water and mild soap wash your feet each day. Make sure that you dry them very well, especially between the toes. You can also use some type of foot powder or talcum powder to help reduce moisture. Make sure that you are just dusting your feet and do not leave the residue between your toes. If your feet are really dry use hand cream or cream that is especially for diabetic dry skin and rub it in really well. Do not use it between your toes.
- Either you or someone else should inspect your foot on a daily basis to check for sores, bruises, changes to your toenails, or cuts. This is especially necessary if you no feeling in your foot because you could cut or bruise it and not feel it. If you are checking your own feet and cannot see the bottom use a mirror to check it.
- If you are a diabetic it is best to see a podiatrist, a doctor that specializes in foot care, to have your nails cut. You should check to see if they specialize or are knowledgeable in diabetic foot care as they would know how to cut your toe nails correctly. If you are cutting your own nails make sure that you cut them straight across but never cut into the corners. If the corners are rough and sharp use an emery board to smooth them. If you have any calluses or corns do not try to remove them yourself but see a podiatrist to have this done.
- You should always wear some type of shoes, even in the house. You should never go barefoot as you could step on something and damage your foot.
- Make sure that when you get shoes that they fit properly. There are stores that specialize in shoes for diabetics that you can go to.