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Diabetic Foot Care

diabetic footDiabetes affects millions of people every year. Blood vessels located all over the body are damaged due to diabetes—even the blood vessels of the feet. Neuropathy, or nerve damage, can result from slower blood flow in the legs and feet. In diabetic patients neuropathy is very important to monitor, as diabetics are at risk for developing ulcers.

Always washing and thoroughly drying the feet are pertinent parts of diabetic foot care. There should be a focus on cleaning between the toes. Even if no pain is felt, the entire foot should be examined for redness and sores. Neuropathy can often mask the pain of sores and ulcers, and cause these conditions to be overlooked. Use a mirror to examine the underside of your feet if needed. It is recommended that diabetics wear will-fitting socks.

Patients with diabetes should have their doctor monitor their blood levels because blood sugar levels play a huge role in diabetic care. Monitoring these levels on a regular basis is highly advised. It is very important to keep your blood sugar levels in the normal range, which can be determined by your physician. There are medications that a physician may prescribe to help with neuropathy of the diabetic patient. It is also advisable to visit a podiatrist if the diabetic patient is experiencing any conditions involving the feet such as ingrown toenails, which in more severe cases can cause infection.

Diabetic foot care at home is possible if a patient is provided with instructions from their physician. Patients can cure dry heels with creams or ointments. If trying to remove a callus with a tool, practice caution as severe diabetics may not be able to feel pain. Improper removal may cause a wound to develop.

Diabetic feet must be inspected on a daily basis. Set up regular visits with your podiatrist since proper diabetic foot care is necessary. If you suspect that you have a wound, notify your doctor immediately. Gangrene is a serious problem for diabetics and can lead to sepsis and amputation in its worst cases. Early treatment and daily inspection of diabetic feet are keys to staying healthy.

Wound Care

Diabetics must be wary of all wounds, regardless of depth or size. Diabetes, a chronic disease in which the body cannot properly use glucose the way it normally would, causes various complications that make wounds difficult to heal. Nerve damage or neuropathy will cause diabetics to have trouble feeling the pain of a blister or cut until the condition has significantly worsened or become infected. A diabetic’s weakened immune system can make even the most minor of wounds easily susceptible to infection. Diabetics are also more prone to developing narrow, clogged arteries, and are therefore more likely to develop wounds.

Wounds should be taken care of immediately after discovery, as even the smallest of wounds can become infected if enough bacteria build up within the wound. To remove dirt, wounds should be first rinsed under running water only. Soap, hydrogen peroxide, or iodine can irritate the injury and should be avoided. To prevent infection, apply antibiotic ointment to the wound and cover it with a bandage. The bandage should be changed daily. The skin around the wound may be cleaned with soap.

To prevent further exacerbation, see a doctor—especially if you have diabetes. Minor skin conditions can become larger problems if not properly inspected. As the wound heals, make sure to avoid applying pressure to the affected area.

Limb Salvage

Limb salvage is a procedure that involves saving a lower extremity from amputation. In podiatry, limb amputation often occurs as a result of diabetes, peripheral vascular disease, neuropathy, cancer, and severe crush injury. The fundamental goal of limb salvage is to restore and maintain stability and movement of the affected lower extremity.

The procedure typically involves removing the diseased tissue and a small portion of the surrounding healthy tissue, as well as the removal of any affected bone if necessary. If bone is removed it is then replaced with prostheses, or synthetic metal rods or plates, or grafts from either the patient’s body or a donor. Limb salvage is typically the preferred choice of procedure over amputation, as the procedure preserves both the patient’s appearance and allows for the greatest possible degree of function in the affected limb.

Upon diagnosis and determining that limb salvage is the appropriate treatment, the podiatrist may enlist the help of a physical and/or occupational therapist to prepare the patient for surgery by introducing various muscle-strengthening, walking, and range of motion exercises. Such exercises may be continued as rehabilitation post-procedure.

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