Diabetic Foot Conditions

What Does Diabetes Do to Your Feet? 

Diabetes, when unmanaged, can have serious effects on your feet. Dr. Ryan M. Sherick, a renowned expert in Los Angeles and Thousand Oaks, California emphasizes that high blood sugar levels can damage nerves and blood vessels, leading to diabetic neuropathy and poor circulation in the feet. This can result in reduced sensation, making it difficult to detect injuries and infections. Furthermore, impaired blood flow can slow down the healing process, increasing the risk of ulcers and even amputations.

Dr. Sherick advises diligent foot care, including daily inspections, proper footwear, and regular check-ups, to mitigate these risks and maintain good foot health for those living with diabetes

Why do diabetics have foot problems?

Diabetics often experience foot problems due to a condition called diabetic neuropathy. This condition occurs when high levels of glucose in the blood damage the nerves over time. As a result, diabetics may lose sensation in their feet or experience altered sensations like tingling and numbness. This loss of feeling can lead to several issues.

Reduced Awareness: Diabetics may not notice cuts, blisters, or injuries on their feet, which can lead to infections.
Poor Blood Flow: Diabetes can affect blood vessels, leading to reduced blood flow to the extremities. Poor circulation impairs the body’s ability to heal wounds, making even minor injuries more problematic.
Increased Risk of Infection: Diabetic neuropathy and poor blood flow create an environment where infections can thrive. Untreated infections can escalate, potentially leading to serious complications.
Foot Deformities: Over time, muscle imbalances in the feet may cause deformities like bunions and hammertoes, making it even more challenging to find appropriate footwear.
Ulcers and Amputations: When foot problems go unnoticed and untreated, they can progress to ulcers and, in severe cases, may require amputation.

For diabetics, it’s crucial to maintain strict blood sugar control, inspect their feet regularly, and seek prompt medical attention for any foot issues to prevent or manage these complications.

What is diabetic peripheral neuropathy?

Diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN) is a common complication of diabetes. It results from prolonged high blood sugar levels damaging nerves, especially in the legs and feet. DPN can cause numbness, tingling, and pain in these areas. Over time, it may lead to loss of sensation and muscle weakness, making injuries harder to detect. Proper diabetes management, including blood sugar control and lifestyle changes, can help prevent or slow the progression of DPN. Regular check-ups with a healthcare provider are essential for early detection and management of this condition.

What does neuropathy feel like?

The first signs of diabetic peripheral neuropathy are when you start to feel numbness and tingling in your body.

When your blood sugar is too high, it not only harms your nerve cells but also makes them take in more water. This swelling of nerve cells puts pressure on the nerves themselves. Medical experts haven’t figured out how to stop diabetic neuropathy from happening, but there are ways to slow it down or even stop it from getting worse. To do this, they relieve the pressure that affects both the nerves and blood vessels.

If they do this pressure-relief surgery early on in diabetic neuropathy, it can help restore blood flow. This will make the numbness and tingling go away and let your nerves heal.

What is peripheral vascular disease (PVD)? 

Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD) is a condition that affects blood vessels outside the heart and brain. It typically involves narrowing or blockage of arteries in the legs, reducing blood flow. Symptoms may include pain, cramping, and numbness in the limbs. PVD is often linked to atherosclerosis and can increase the risk of serious health issues if left untreated.

Neuropathy and PVD can cause the
following foot problems for diabetics:

Neuropathy and Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD) are two common complications that affect many individuals with diabetes, and when combined, they can lead to a host of foot problems. These issues are of particular concern because they can result in severe consequences, including amputation, if not properly managed. Here, we will discuss the foot problems that diabetics may experience when dealing with neuropathy and PVD.

Foot Ulcers: Neuropathy, which is nerve damage often associated with diabetes, can lead to a lack of sensation in the feet. This means that a diabetic may not feel injuries or pressure points on their feet. When coupled with PVD, which reduces blood flow to the extremities, even minor injuries can take longer to heal. Over time, these wounds can develop into ulcers, which can be challenging to treat due to the reduced blood flow.
Infections: Diabetic neuropathy also affects the sweat glands and oil glands in the feet, making the skin dry and more prone to cracking. Cracked, dry skin can provide an entry point for bacteria, potentially leading to infections. The reduced blood flow in PVD can make it more challenging for the immune system to combat these infections, making them more severe and harder to manage.
Gangrene: Gangrene, the death of body tissue due to a lack of blood supply, is a severe complication of PVD. When neuropathy is present, the symptoms of gangrene might not be as noticeable due to the lack of pain. This can lead to delayed treatment, making amputation necessary in extreme cases.
Charcot Foot: This condition is more common in those with neuropathy, where the bones in the foot weaken and may fracture easily. PVD can exacerbate this condition by limiting the blood flow necessary for healing and recovery, potentially leading to deformities in the foot.
Slow Healing: Due to the combination of neuropathy and PVD, any foot injury, from blisters to cuts, takes significantly longer to heal. This can be particularly problematic, as slow-healing wounds may provide an opportunity for infections to develop and spread.
Amputations: In the most severe cases, uncontrolled neuropathy and PVD can lead to the need for foot or leg amputations. The combination of nerve damage, poor blood circulation, and a compromised immune system increases the risk of tissue damage and infection to a point where amputation becomes the only viable option to prevent further complications.

Managing these foot problems in diabetics with neuropathy and PVD is crucial. This involves regular foot exams, proper footwear, maintaining optimal blood sugar levels, and seeking medical attention at the earliest sign of any foot issue. Furthermore, managing other risk factors such as hypertension and hyperlipidemia is essential for preventing or slowing down the progression of PVD. It’s imperative that individuals with diabetes work closely with their healthcare providers to address these challenges and reduce the risk of severe complications. By doing so, they can maintain better foot health and overall quality of life.

How to take care of your diabetic feet?

Taking care of your diabetic feet is crucial to maintain good health and prevent serious complications. Diabetes can lead to poor blood circulation and nerve damage, making the feet vulnerable to infections and slow-healing wounds. Here are some essential tips to keep your feet healthy:

Inspect your feet daily: Check your feet for any cuts, blisters, sores, or redness. Use a mirror if necessary to see the bottom of your feet. Early detection can prevent minor issues from becoming major problems.
Wash your feet: Use mild soap and lukewarm water to clean your feet daily. Gently pat them dry, especially between the toes, to prevent fungal infections.
Moisturize: Apply a moisturizing lotion to prevent dry, cracked skin. Avoid applying lotion between the toes, as excess moisture can lead to fungal infections.
Trim your toenails carefully: Trim your toenails straight across and not too short. Avoid cutting into the corners to prevent ingrown toenails. If you have difficulty reaching your feet, seek professional help.
Choose proper footwear: Select comfortable, well-fitting shoes with ample toe room. Inspect your shoes regularly for any foreign objects or rough spots that could cause injury.
Wear clean, dry socks: Change your socks daily and opt for moisture-wicking materials to keep your feet dry. Avoid tight or restrictive socks.
Avoid going barefoot: Diabetic feet are susceptible to injury. Always wear shoes or slippers to protect your feet from cuts and injuries.
Manage blood sugar levels: Keep your blood sugar within your target range. Good blood sugar control promotes better circulation and healing.
Regular check-ups: Schedule regular foot check-ups with a podiatrist or healthcare provider who specializes in diabetic foot care. They can identify problems early and provide guidance.
Exercise and elevate your feet: Incorporate regular exercise into your routine to improve circulation. Elevate your feet when resting to reduce swelling.
Quit smoking: Smoking impairs blood circulation and slows down the healing process. Quitting can improve your overall foot health.
Manage other risk factors: Control high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, as they can contribute to circulatory problems.
Be cautious with hot water: Diabetes can reduce sensitivity to temperature changes, so use a thermometer to check water temperature before bathing.

Taking care of your diabetic feet is a lifelong commitment that can significantly reduce the risk of serious complications and Dr. Ryan M. Sherick can be a valuable person to help you do so. By following these guidelines, you can help ensure your feet remain healthy and pain-free, allowing you to lead an active and fulfilling life despite diabetes.

When to see a doctor about your diabetic foot problems?

If you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, you should already be visiting your doctor regularly. But if you see any of the following changes or experience new symptoms, it’s important to seek medical help:

If your foot’s skin changes color.
If you notice swelling in your foot or ankle.
If your foot feels unusually hot or cold.
If you start experiencing new pain or tingling in your feet or lower legs.
If you have signs of athlete’s foot or another fungal infection.
If there are any signs of infection.
If you develop a new cut or blister.

Why choose Apex Foot & Ankle Institute for diabetic foot care? 

When it comes to diabetic foot care in Los Angeles or Thousand Oaks, California there’s no better choice than Apex Foot & Ankle Institute, led by Dr. Ryan M. Sherick.

Here’s why you should entrust your diabetic foot health to our expert team:

Expertise: Dr. Ryan M. Sherick is a renowned podiatrist specializing in diabetic foot care. With years of experience, he understands the unique challenges diabetes presents to foot health.
Comprehensive Care: We offer a wide range of services, from routine check-ups and wound care to advanced treatments for diabetic foot complications. Our comprehensive approach ensures you receive the best care possible.
Personalized Treatment: At Apex Foot & Ankle Institute, we understand that each patient’s needs are unique. Dr. Sherick and his team tailor treatment plans to your specific condition, ensuring the best outcomes.
State-of-the-Art Technology: We use cutting-edge technology and therapies to provide the most effective treatments available for diabetic foot care.

Your feet deserve the best care. Choose Apex Foot & Ankle Institute in Thousand Oaks, California and the Los Angeles area for top-notch diabetic foot care that prioritizes your health and well-being.

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