Diabetic Foot Care in South Florida
Foot Pain Specialties
Affecting over 25 million people in the U.S., diabetes is a common disorder of the body’s hormone (endocrine) system, causing the blood sugar levels to consistently be above normal. Hormones (primarily the hormone insulin) control blood sugar levels, and the body’s ability to convert sugar into energy. There are two types of diabetes:
- Type 1 diabetes is the body’s inability to produce insulin
- Type 2 diabetes is the body’s resistance to insulin
Type 2 diabetes is the leading cause of diabetes-related complications, including blindness, kidney failure, nerve damage, poor blood flow, and foot ailments.
Diabetic Foot Condition
The two most common foot conditions that result from diabetes are neuropathy and peripheral vascular disease. Neuropathy is the result of nerve damage in the feet and legs, which result in the inability to feel heat, cold, or pain.
A common symptom of uncontrolled diabetes is poor blood flow. Peripheral vascular disease is the result of poor circulation due to reduced blood flow. Symptoms of peripheral vascular disease are typically most prominent in the legs, and include:
- Numbness and weakness
- Changing in leg coloring
- Pain while walking
- Decrease in lower leg and foot temperature
- Hair loss on legs and feet
- Sores on feet and legs that do not heal properly
Patients suffering from peripheral vascular disease have a higher risk of developing other foot problems, such as ulcers or gangrene.
Common Foot Problems and Diabetes
Due to nerve damage and decreases in blood flow, diabetic patients have a higher risk of developing additional common foot problems. While anyone can develop the following foot problems, diabetic patients have a higher risk of developing one or more severe ailments, including:
- Athlete’s foot
- Fungal infection of the nails
- Foot ulcers
- Plantar warts
Foot Problem Prevention
There are several steps patients can take to prevent the development or worsening of foot conditions. Each day, diabetic patients should wash, not soak, their feet with warm water. Afterwards, they should dry their feet well to prevent moisture build up between toes and check for any signs of blisters, sores, redness, or calluses. Catching foot problems early can prevent the condition from worsening or additional problems from developing.
Proper footwear can have a significant impact on the development of foot ailments. Diabetic patients should:
- Not wear sandals, open-toed shoes, or walk barefoot (including indoors)
- Always wear socks or stockings
- Always make sure that shoes fit well, such as wearing wide shoes
To increase blood flow to the legs and feet, patients should regularly wiggle their toes and stretch their feet throughout the day. Smoking can cause additional blood flow issues and can greatly increase a diabetic patient’s chances of developing a severe foot condition. The best thing that diabetic patients can do to prevent future foot problems is to schedule a visit with their podiatrist every two to three months.
Neuropathy in South Florida
Dr. Jamie Weaver is a podiatric specialist in foot and ankle surgery. She strives to provide the highest quality care to patients in Naples and Bonita Springs, Florida areas. Dr. Weaver specializes in the treatment and prevention of foot and ankle problems. For more information about common diabetic foot problems or prevention tips, schedule an appointment with Dr. Weaver at the Joint Replacement Institute.