Diabetic foot refers to a group of complications that can arise in individuals with diabetes due to nerve damage (neuropathy) and reduced blood circulation (peripheral arterial disease).
Diabetes can lead to long-term high blood sugar levels, which can cause damage to the nerves and blood vessels, particularly in the lower extremities. Here's an overview of diabetic foot and its complications:
Diabetic foot complications can develop due to the following factors:
High blood sugar levels can damage the nerves, leading to peripheral neuropathy. Peripheral neuropathy can cause loss of sensation, particularly in the feet, making it difficult to detect injuries or infections.
Peripheral arterial disease (PAD)
Diabetes can also contribute to the development of peripheral arterial disease, a condition characterized by reduced blood flow to the extremities. Poor circulation impairs the healing process and increases the risk of infections.
Diabetic foot can result in various complications, including:
Reduced sensation and poor circulation can lead to the formation of foot ulcers, which are open sores that often occur on the bottom of the foot. These ulcers can be slow to heal and are prone to infection.
Due to compromised blood flow and weakened immune responses, foot ulcers can easily become infected. In severe cases, infections can spread to the bones (osteomyelitis) or surrounding tissues (cellulitis).
Severe infections or inadequate blood flow can cause tissue death, leading to gangrene. Gangrene may require surgical intervention, such as amputation, to prevent the spread of infection.
Charcot foot is a condition where the bones and joints of the foot collapse due to neuropathy. It can result in deformities and instability, making walking difficult.
Prevention and Management
Preventing and effectively managing diabetic foot complications are crucial. Here are some strategies:
Blood sugar control
Keeping blood sugar levels within the target range can help prevent or delay the onset of diabetic foot complications.
Daily foot inspections: Regularly inspect your feet for any cuts, sores, redness, swelling, or other abnormalities. Use a mirror if needed or seek assistance from a caregiver.
Wash your feet daily with mild soap and lukewarm water, ensuring to dry them thoroughly, especially between the toes.
Apply a moisturizer to keep the skin of your feet hydrated, but avoid applying it between the toes to prevent excessive moisture buildup.
Trim nails carefully
Trim your toenails straight across, avoiding sharp corners, and file the edges to prevent ingrown nails.
Wear well-fitting shoes that provide adequate support and cushioning. Avoid tight or pointed-toe shoes and opt for breathable materials.
Protect your feet
Wear socks and shoes at all times, even indoors, to prevent injuries.
Avoid extreme temperatures
Protect your feet from excessive cold or heat to prevent damage.
Regular foot examinations
Schedule regular foot examinations with a healthcare professional to monitor any changes, detect problems early, and receive appropriate treatment.
Smoking reduces blood flow and impairs wound healing. Quitting smoking can significantly improve overall foot health.
If you notice any signs of foot ulcers, infections, or other abnormalities, seek prompt medical attention.
A healthcare professional may provide wound care, prescribe appropriate medications (such as antibiotics), or recommend advanced treatments like debridement (removal of dead tissue) or hyperbaric oxygen therapy.
Remember, proper management of diabetes, foot care, and regular monitoring are essential for preventing diabetic foot complications and maintaining foot health.
How can Healand help with diabetic foot and foot ulcers?
We offer a range of therapies that can help increase healing and relieve pain from diabetic feet. Please make a booking with us for further information