Diabetes is a difficult disease—hard to manage and full of risk for other complications. While you watch your sugar and carb intake to keep your glucose level steady, you also need to monitor your circulation and nerve health, especially in your extremities. Good diabetic foot care is essential for heading off complications like poor blood flow or nerve damage that can end up threatening life and limb.
How Diabetes Affects Your Nerves and Blood Vessels
Diabetes is the inability to process sugar properly for use by your cells in growth and repair. It is affected by your body’s ability—or lack of it—to produce insulin. If the sugar is not available to the cells, it stays in your blood stream, causing unusually high glucose levels. Over time, these high levels harm your nerves and the walls of your blood vessels.
Damaged veins and arteries inhibit proper blood circulation. Poor blood flow reduces your ability to heal wounds and fight off infection. When your nervous system is impaired, it cannot receive and send messages as it should. The nerves can’t sense pain when you are injured, or warn you of exposure to dangerous temperatures. They also may send the wrong messages to your brain, causing you to sense pain, tingling or burning sensations, hampering your movement.
Check Your Feet Daily to Catch Problems Early
Nerve problems often show up first in your feet and legs. They are the farthest distance from the brain, at the periphery of your body; thus the condition is called peripheral neuropathy. When you can’t sense what is happening in your legs or feet, you may not notice that you are stepping on something sharp, or feel pain when the skin is broken.
That is why diabetic foot care is so important. You need to use your eyes to see what your limbs cannot feel. After you wash and dry your feet each day, carefully examine them for any scrapes, cuts, or sores, and have us treat them immediately. If you don’t, you could make them worse by walking on them. Keep your feet soft with a good moisturizer, to avoid dry skin that cracks and opens them to infection. Pick shoes that support your feet to help prevent other future foot conditions which can turn into diabetic foot complications.
Untreated sores could turn into ulcers that don’t heal, because the poor blood flow associated with this condition slows down recovery. The wounds could become infected, developing gangrene and eventually requiring amputation if your body can’t conquer the problem.
Don’t Try to Go It Alone
If you have diabetes, you need a strong health care team watching out for you. Your podiatrist is a vital part of that team. Keeping your feet healthy is crucial to allowing you to continue life as normally as possible. Injured feet mean you can’t exercise as well, which could lead to weight gain and even more stress on your body.
Come to Mark Gasparini, D.P.M., for a thorough foot exam at least once a year—more often if you have a problem with sores on your feet. We can debride the damaged tissue, treat the wound with medication, and bandage it properly to protect it. Call our office near Bethpage, NY at (516) 804-9038 to get more information or set up an appointment. We can help you take care of your feet and keep diabetic complications at bay.