For diabetics suffering from neuropathy, proper foot care is necessary to live a happy and healthy life.
Diabetic neuropathy is a type of nerve damage that can occur if you have diabetes. High blood sugar can injure nerve fibers throughout your body, but diabetic neuropathy most often damages nerves in your legs and feet.
This condition can manifest in both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetics. In Type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce the insulin necessary to convert glucose into the energy that the body needs. Type 2 diabetes, which is far more common, occurs when the body is unable to use insulin properly.
It has been estimated that between 60 to 70 percent of diabetics will deal with some form of neuropathy in their lifetime, compared to only a 25 to 30 percent chance for non-diabetics.
For diabetics already living with neuropathy, or those who may deal with it in the future, Dr. Ian S. Goldbaum of Delray Beach Podiatry has come up with several helpful tips to help keep your feet healthy:
Check your feet regularly: Regular foot checks are an increasingly essential part of diabetes management as nerve damage and reduced circulation caused by diabetes can lead to reduced awareness of pain and slower healing of the foot. Foot problems are one of the most common complications associated with diabetes and it’s important to check your feet daily for signs of damage in order to avoid future problems. In severe cases, poor foot care may lead to amputation of a foot or leg. In fact, even something as minimal as a blister or a sore could lead to an infection or a non-healing wound.
“Patients with diabetes have a decrease in sensation to their lower extremities,” said Dr. Ian S. Goldbaum of Delray Beach Podiatry. “Because of this, they can’t feel things that a person would normally feel.”
While there are many preventative measures that diabetics can be taken reduce the risk of a foot infection, Dr. Golbaum insists that his patients not only check their feet twice a day — once in the morning and again at night — but also moisturize their feet daily to combat dryness.
Invest in proper footwear: Wearing the wrong pair of shoes can sometimes set diabetes patients up for a wide variety of unforeseen problems that range from minor rashes to serious ulcers. When shopping for shoes, it’s best to wear leather, canvas, or suede styles to allow adequate circulation of air. It’s also important to make sure that the shoe provides adequate breathing room, but doesn’t leave so much space that the friction between the shoe and your skin becomes uncomfortable as this constant rubbing can lead to injury.
Don’t let foot problems linger: A diabetic should never take a wait-and-see approach when it comes to the health of their feet. All cuts, calluses, corns and other common foot problems should be dealt with promptly to avoid further complications and reduce the risk of infection. In most cases, a podiatrist should be consulted before any at-home treatments are attempted.
Purchase a custom-made orthotic: While over-the-counter orthotics can serve the needs of some people adequately, in many cases a custom-made orthotic is required for optimal pain relief and protection for diabetics. It’s important to remember that over-the-counter orthotics are made for a very general foot type while a custom orthotic is specifically made to match the contours of your feet precisely and designed for the way you move. A custom-made orthotic can only be manufactured after a podiatrist has conducted a complete evaluation of your feet, ankles, and legs, so the orthotic can accommodate your unique foot structure and pathology. The good news, however, is that a custom-made orthotic is built to last!
“They’re going to last anywhere from 5-20 years if the patient’s foot doesn’t change,” said Dr. Goldbaum, who notes that 98 percent of his patients have been satisfied with their custom orthotics. “We also give our patients the cast so they can craft future orthotics without additional casting fees.”
Say no to smoking: Smoking is a health hazard for anyone, but if you suffering from diabetes, choosing to light up a cigarette will likely only serve to put your health at an even greater risk. The act of smoking has been linked to higher blood sugar levels in diabetics while also negatively affecting their already vulnerable circulation. Because of this, smoking actually works to deprive your feet of the nutrient- and oxygen-rich blood that helps keep them healthy and fights infection.
Manage blood sugar levels: The improper management of blood sugar levels can often lead to neuropathy, which will make it hard to know when your feet are at risk or being damaged. The better you are at controlling your blood sugar, the healthier your feet will be over the long term.
Follow Dr. Goldbaum on Twitter @Delray_Podiatry
The content on this website is for informational purposes only. Do not rely or act upon information from www.DelrayBeachPodiatry.com without seeking professional medical advice. If you live in South Florida and would like a consultation with Dr. Ian Goldbaum, a podiatric physician and surgeon with over 30 years of experience, please see our contact information below:
16244 S. Military Trail #290, Delray Beach, FL 33484
2900 N. Military Trail #210, Boca Raton, FL 33431 (SOUTH BLDG)
8198 Jog Road #100, Boynton Beach, FL 33472