Diabetic Foot Care & Monitoring
As a resident training in the Salt Lake City VA Hospital, I was exposed to the full gamut of diabetic foot wounds, infections, amputations and at times as a result, the loss of life. Diabetes is a systemic disease that leaves no corner of the human body untouched, least of all the foot.
Below I will provide an extensive list of situations to avoid and tips on protecting your feet if you are suffering from numbness / neuropathy from Diabetes or any other type of nerve disorder that might leave your feet at risk.
- Check your feet at least morning and night for blisters, thick calluses, redness, swelling, warmth etc. Even if you can explain the symptoms, you probably should have a podiatrist take a look. A small amount of warmth and redness can spell disaster in some situations. The most common sign of possible problems to come is a thick callus on the heel, ball of foot or tips of the toes. The thick callus becomes to stiff and the underlying skin can begin to break down into blisters and later wounds.
- Never put your shoes on before shaking them out and feeling inside for anything that could have punctured the sole including nails, needles, screws, pins etc. I have seen patients who have neuropathy walk around all day with a marble, watch and even an golf ball in the shoe, sustaining serious damage.
- Never check the temperature of bath water with your foot.
- Never walk around in your home or outside without a thick soled shoe that would prevent most punctures. I can't tell you how many times we have x-rayed feet and found needles inside the foot that the patient had no idea was there.
- Never go barefoot. I have seen severely burned feet just from walking across a wooden deck in the summer that resulted in amputation.
- Have at least a yearly check up with a quality podiatrist. Some of my more brittle diabetic patients have to be seen monthly or even weekly to keep them out of trouble. A recent study out of Duke, showed that having a podiatrist involved in the care of a foot wound will reduce your chances of major amputation down the road by 25-30%.
- Wear quality shoes, hopefully diabetic shoes. If you are on Medicare, they will pay for one pair of shoes and 3 sets if inserts each year.
- Where white socks. If you begin to bleed from a wound or puncture, you'll notice it much quicker than if you are wearing darker colored socks.
- Keep dry skin moisturized. Cracking skin can open the door to infections. Keep wet and moist skin from getting too dry or it too will break down into blisters and wounds.
- Get it checked out. A simple blister, callus or red spot can end up being a major problem. A good podiatrist normally will tell you to please come in to be examined. Small problems normally can be kept small, whereas larger problems cannot be reversed at times.
Remember that diabetes will and can affect your blood flow, your immune system and your sense of feeling. This puts you at risk for wounds, infections and slow healing. Our goal is to protect your feet from even the smallest problems.
As always, please feel free to contact our clinic with any questions or concerns or to make an appointment.
Dan Preece, DPM
Dan Preece, DPM & Darren Groberg, DPM