Foot Problems Caused by Diabetes and their Treatment
Diabetic foot problems and the complications that come with them require an aggressive multidisciplinary approach for possible limb salvage. Despite the current refinement of medical care, foot problems remain the highest cause of hospitalization among diabetes patients. Foot problems are usually the preceding factors of potential pathologic consequences such as ulceration, destruction of deep tissues, and infections.
How Does Diabetes Cause Foot Problems?
Type 1 and 2 diabetes can quickly damage the peripheral nerves and blood vessels resulting in problems in the feet. Peripheral neuropathy and peripheral artery disease (PAD) are to blame for the high risk of foot problems in diabetics. PAD, also known as peripheral vascular disease (PVD) means occlusion caused by atherosclerotic plaques of arteries is present. This happens outside the brain and the heart. Diabetes is a significant peripheral artery disease risk factor. With PAD, you are likely to experience pain around the calves when exercising. Should it be at an advanced stage, oxygen may fail to get to the lower extremities, leading to gangrene and ulcers.
Diabetes may lead to nerve damage, which results in a numbing sensation in the legs making it hard for the affected person to feel their legs. This condition also makes it hard to feel soreness in the feet, infections, or an injuries. The lack of feeling can then result in an increased risk of cuts, blisters and sores. Lack of immediate treatment may lead to the development of ulcers, gangrene, and infections. Your doctor may recommend amputation if gangrene develops.
Peripheral Vascular Disease
PVD affects blood vessels that lead to and from the lower extremities causing a decrease in blood flow. Reduced blood flow causes wounds to heal slowly and can also result in infections and pain. Atherosclerosis may be similar among diabetic and nondiabetic people, but in diabetes, it progresses at an accelerated rate. The primary manifestations of macrovascular disease in people with diabetes are PVD, coronary artery, and cerebrovascular disease. Most diabetes patients with PVD also suffer from coronary artery disease. Should a person living with diabetes develop a severe infection, amputation may be recommended.
Calluses are common among people with diabetes type 1 and 2 because of the high-pressure spots under the feet. Too much of them mean you need special diabetic shoes. Should they be ignored and not cut down, ulceration sets in. Cutting them unprofessionally can also lead to infection and ulcers. Attempting to remove them with chemical products can cause a burn to your skin. Have them removed by a health specialist.
If you have diabetes, you are more likely to experience episodes of poor blood circulation. With a poor flow, your feet are unable to fight infections. A diabetic condition tends to narrow and harden the blood vessels in the lower extremities. If you have diabetes, quitting smoking should be your first approach to better manage your condition. Smoking causes the arteries to harden.
Should you find your feet cold, avoid using hot water, heating pads, and hot water bottles. This is because your feet are likely not to feel the heat and that could result in burning. Instead, wear warm socks.
Are you diabetic and feel pain in your calves each time you walk on a hard surface or up a hilly surface? You could be suffering from intermittent claudication (pain that occurs as a result of low blood supply to the legs). In such cases, take breaks before advancing, and be sure to let your health provider know. Medication, compression socks, and exercise may be recommended for improved circulation. Simple clues such as cold feet, poor pulse, lack of hair in the feet, and thin skin can signal poor circulation.
Ulcers happen at the bottom of the big toe or under the feet. Although not every ulcer will hurt, your health provider should examine them. Neglecting ulcers can quickly lead to infections which can then result in amputation. Foot X-rays may be needed to rule out infections in the bone. Infected and dead tissues may be cleaned. It is vital to have ulcers treated promptly to prevent them from getting larger or forcing the infection deeper into your feet. Because high blood sugars make it hard to fight infection, have the levels controlled.
The examination of a diabetes patient’s feet should be an integral part of self-care daily. Neuropathic alterations such as fissures, dry skin, callus, foot shape abnormalities, nail lesions, prominent veins, and ulceration should be examined. Pay more attention to the interdigital areas. The management of diabetes type 1 and 2 requires a multidisciplinary team approach. For instance, in ulceration, the removal of unhealthy tissue may help in getting rid of the bacteria colonizing the wound.
Because foot problems can be limb and life threatening, they must be treated promptly and aggressively. Regular dressing and oral antibiotics may be needed for certain infections. Patients with diabetes are advised to undergo foot examinations at least once a year. Early detection of potential risks can decrease the chances of amputation. It is essential that all diabetes patients wear the right footwear, maintain reasonable glycemic control, and self-examine their feet regularly. If you are diabetic and you are at risk of getting injured, especially around your feet, be sure to minimize the levels of your activities. Controlled blood sugar levels reduce the nerve damage known to cause diabetic foot complications. Should a foot ulcer occur, for instance, controlled blood sugar levels minimize the need to have your foot amputated.
The treatment of diabetic feet depends on the severity of the wound. Cleaning and removing dead skin and tissue is done to treat superficial ulcers. Should complications be detected, pay more attention to the affected foot to ensure the problem does not advance. Your foot ulcer, for instance, should be checked by your doctor at least once a week to ensure it is not advancing. If it is found to extend into the deeper layers, hospitalization will be required. During the foot examination, mention any problems you may have noticed. Medical examinations should reveal absent or decreasing reflexes or the inability to sense pressure. Special devices such as a tuning fork may be used to determine the extent of nerve damage.
Foot problems are common complications among people with diabetes type 1 and 2. Most of the complexities, however, can be prevented through observing a daily foot care regimen