As a podiatrist, I see a fair number of patients with diabetes. Diabetes is a chronic disease with many potential complications, particularly complications that involve the feet and legs. Diabetic foot is an umbrella term for foot problems in patients with diabetes. Of the sixteen million Americans with diabetes, 25% will likely develop foot problems related to the disease. People with diabetes should pay close attention to their feet as to do everything possible to avoid this condition. In fact, diabetic patients should be under a podiatrist’s care in order to prevent the serious consequences of Diabetic foot.
So, what are some of the causes of Diabetic foot? Diabetic foot conditions stem from a combination of causes including poor circulation and neuropathy. Diabetic neuropathy can cause a loss of the ability to feel pain, heat, and cold. Diabetics suffering from neuropathy can develop minor cuts, scrapes, or blisters that they may not be aware of due to the insensitivity. If these small injuries are left untreated, complications may arise and lead to serious problems, i.e. ulceration or amputation.
Diabetes can also often lead to peripheral vascular disease that hinders an individual’s blood circulation. With this condition, there is a narrowing of the arteries that frequently leads to markedly decreased circulation in the lower part of the legs and the feet. Poor circulation leads to diabetic foot problems by decreasing the amount of oxygen and nutrition supplied to the skin and other tissue which causes injuries to heal slowly and poorly. Impaired circulation can also lead to swelling and dryness of the foot.
It is absolutely critical for diabetics to take the necessary precautions to prevent all foot related injuries. Although it may seem arduous at times, it is definitely worth it! When a diabetic patient takes the necessary preventative foot care measures, he or she significantly reduces the risks of serious foot conditions. Stay tuned for Part II of Diabetic Foot to learn ways to prevent serious foot health care issues and improve the condition of your feet.