Sadly, thousands of lower limbs are amputated annually as the result of complications related to diabetes. Diabetes affects multiple body systems, including the feet, and requires the attention of health professionals, including your local podiatrist MD (Maryland). Podiatrists receive specialized training in diabetic foot wounds and other limb threatening conditions, ultimately reducing the risk of lower extremity amputation.
Your body naturally produces insulin in the pancreas and uses it to regulate blood sugar levels. When your pancreas secretes too little insulin or no insulin or when insulin is less effective, blood sugar levels can remain elevated and ultimately cause damage to various parts of the body such as the blood vessels and nerves.
Diabetes can reduce blood flow to your feet and cause nerve damage, also known as peripheral neuropathy. Peripheral neuropathy leads to numbness in the feet making it difficult to detect the presence of cuts and wounds. Reduced blood flow to the legs, also known as peripheral arterial disease (PAD), affects the ability of tissue to heal and can lead to serious infections and amputations.
Patients with diabetes are at risk of developing wounds and other complications in their lower extremities. Early detection, treatment, and management of diabetic wounds must be incorporated in diabetic care. It is important for diabetic patients to establish themselves with a podiatrist MD (Maryland) to reduce the risk of wounds, infections, and lower extremity amputations.
Foot care for diabetic patients should including the following:
- Daily foot inspection: Examine both feet everyday and check for non-healing cuts, sores, redness, swelling, warmth, or active bleeding.
- Wear properly fitted shoes: Poor-fitting shoes can cause wounds, blisters, and sores on the foot and/or ankle. As foot size and shape can change, it is important to have shoes properly fitted to ensure the safest and most comfortable fit. Diabetic patients should carefully inspect their feet whenever they begin wearing new shoes.
- Avoid barefoot walking at all times: Diabetics can develop numbness in their feet and may not sense injury until it is too late. Diabetics are urged to avoid barefoot walking and wear shoes as often as possible to avoid stepping on a foreign body, suffering trauma, and to avoid a thermal injury.
- Use only soft and thick socks: Choose socks with natural fibers or superior moisture wicking properties to prevent the growth of fungus in between toenails. Avoid socks with seams which may rub against skin and cause blisters on the feet.
- Exercise regularly: Regular, moderate physical activity, with supportive and comfortable shoes, can improve blood flow to the lower extremities, can improve glucose control, and can prevent excessive weight gain. All of these positive benefits can reduce the complications related to diabetes and the feet.
- Routine foot screenings: Routine examination by a podiatrist MD (Maryland) can detect diabetic wounds and other lower leg conditions in the early stages and are essential for feet health in diabetic patients. All diabetic patients should be seen at minimum annually by a podiatrist. If risk factors are identified then patients should be seen more frequently.
While a cure for diabetes has yet to be discovered, this disease may be managed to prevent serious complications. Developing an ongoing relationship with your podiatrist MD (Maryland) can significantly reduce the risk of lower leg problems and should form part of a diabetes patient’s health management plan.
Seek out expert care
Dr. Jordan R. Stewart, a podiatrist MD (Maryland), of the Timonium Foot and Ankle Center has extensive experience treating diabetic patients and the complications related to the disease. He spent 4 years working at the GBMC wound care center where he performed advanced limb salvage procedures. He routinely sees diabetic patients in his office. If you are a diabetic patient seeking the care of podiatrist, do not hesitate to contact Dr. Stewart.