If you have diabetes, keeping your feet healthy is extremely important. High blood glucose (sugar) can lead to two types of foot problems. One problem is nerve damage and the other is poor blood flow, or circulation (see below). If you have nerve damage you’re probably not going to feel pain, heat, or cold in your legs and feet. This lack of feeling is called diabetic neuropathy which can lead to serious problems like infection.
Some diabetics are especially sensitive to socks that have course seams, constricting bands, and rough materials on the soles of the feet. There are socks designed specifically for diabetics that are non-binding and minimize constriction around the ankles and legs.
With constant care and maintenance, the feet’s pain and infection can be minimized. Here are some tips that may help relive discomfort:
- Wash your feet daily with mild soap and tepid water.
- Trim your toenails carefully.
- Moisturize and rub your feet.
- Wear diabetic socks.
- Wear diabetic shoes.
- Be conscious about your feet and report any sores or infections to your doctor.
- At least four times a year, see your doctor for a regular foot checkup.
Here are several reasons why foot problems may occur in people with diabetes
- Nerve Damage – Nerve damage, known as Neuropathy, can cause a loss of feeling in your feet. When this occurs, you lose the ability to feel when your feet have been injured. You can easily step onto a sharp object, and not know it until you spot blood on your sock. If you don’t see any blood, you can worsen the injury by leaving it unattended. Soon an infected foot ulcer may develop.
- Poor Circulation – Arteries carry blood from the heart to different areas of the body. They are usually soft and pliable. With diabetes, however, arteries can become rigid and blocked, and fail to bring adequate blood, oxygen, nutrients and medications to injured areas of the body. This can significantly delay healing.
- Higher risk of infections – When blood sugar frequently goes above 250 mg/dL, your white blood cells, which fight infections, become sluggish. Infections become more difficult to control.
- Vision Problems – Cuts and other foot injuries can initially be quite small. It is important that careful checking be done daily. If one’s vision is impaired, it is possible to miss potential problems that can become very serious.
- Excess Weight – If you have difficulty bending and reaching your feet, checking them carefully can be a problem. It is important to check them diligently so small injuries do not become major ones.
Choosing your Footwear
- Choosing improperly fitting shoes and socks can cause foot trauma. Remember to:
- Wear shoes and socks that fit well.
- Wear shoes and socks made from natural materials –they allow for healthy air circulation.
- Change your shoes at least once each day.
- Purchase your shoes in the afternoon, when your feet are at their largest size.
- Look for shoes that have a lot of “wiggle room” for your toes. Do not choose shoes that feel tight.
- Take time to break in your new shoes. Wear them for 1-2 hours each day to begin with.
Diabetic News and Information Resource – This is a great resource we just found. This guy really knows his stuff. Please take a look at Rick Mendosa’s diabetes information page above.