Patients with diabetes have to take extra precautions with their feet. Poor circulation, reduced immune system defenses, and nerve damage are all hallmarks of this disease, which put diabetics at a greater risk for several medical disorders. At New England Foot &n Ankle Specialists we urge our patients to be vigilant in checking and caring for their feet to prevent these conditions:
Diabetic Ulcers—any cut or open wound, no matter how small, can spell big trouble for patients with diabetes. Circulation and immunity issues mean that wounds are slow to heal and diabetic ulcers can form from seemingly minor ailments such as blisters, ingrown toenails or dry, cracked skin. If bacteria enters the wound and infection develops, it can quickly spread to the bone. The risk of amputation is the primary concern if the infection cannot be controlled and eliminated.
Peripheral Neuropathy—neuropathy or nerve damage can occur anywhere in the body as a result of diabetes but in the feet it is particularly dangerous. Being unable to perceive changes in temperature, pain, or other sensations makes it much more likely that a diabetic will sustain an injury or not detect an irritant to the foot that could lead to an open wound.
Charcot Foot—this condition is not common but when it occurs the bones of the feet become very weak and begin to spontaneously fracture. Neuropathy prevents the patient with diabetes from perceiving the pain caused by the breaks and so he or she continues walking on the foot, causing more damage and eventually deformity and extreme difficulty walking.
If you have diabetes your foot doctor will be your partner in protecting your feet. Regular podiatric checkups are essential for foot health. Our podiatrists, Dr. George A. Abboud, Dr. Brian D. Tedesco, Dr. Carl Conui, or Dr. Kimberly Thurmond, can help you develop a diabetic foot care regimen that will help prevent serious complications. If you have questions about diabetic foot health, contact our Reading office by calling: (781) 944-4044.