3 Steps Toward Better Diabetic Foot Care
Living with diabetes can place a host of new considerations on your plate:
Do I have everything I need for the day? For an extended trip?
Should I eat this? When should I eat?
Should I check my blood sugar more often?
Your feet might not be the first that come to mind when the questions start coming, but diabetic foot care should be an essential part of any good management plan.
Why is that? Because your feet are especially vulnerable to diabetic consequences such as reduced circulation and nerve damage.
Over time, injuries to the feet may take longer to heal, but might also not even be felt when they happen! This increases the chances that wounds remain open and grow worse, potentially becoming infected or leading to an overall breakdown of the foot structure itself.
It can be very bad news, but it is not difficult to prevent your feet from reaching such a point. It’s never too early to start on it, either.
Taking the proper steps and building good habits into your life now can prevent more difficult problems from developing down the road. It might sound overblown, but being consistent about diabetic foot care could very well save your feet!
Examine Your Feet Every Day
Since the progression of diabetes can interfere with your ability to feel damage to your feet, it is important to put your other senses to work in a regular examination.
Set a time of day, every day, to perform a quick diabetic self-exam. Great opportunities include when you get out of the shower, or just before you head off to bed.
Whatever time you set, take that moment to look over your bare feet for signs of abnormalities or trouble. These include:
- Cuts and nicks
- Ingrown toenails
- Redness or swelling
- Changes in general color
- Changes in foot shape or size
- Corns and calluses
If you have trouble seeing all of each foot, try using a mirror. In some situations, a selfie stick can even be an effective tool! Barring these, a loved one could also help you take a look.
In addition to your eyes, also use your hands as best as you can. Feel for bumps, roughness, changes in temperature, and anything else that might be out of the ordinary.
If you do discover something, do not hesitate to give us a call—especially if you sense changes in size, color, and shape of anything on your foot.
For cuts and other small injuries, we might recommend you keep an eye on it for a couple days to see if it improves. For other matters, such as ingrown toenails and calluses, we might schedule an appointment to take care of them safely without risking any other problems.
Develop Good Shoe and Sock Habits
Your feet will spend a great deal of time in your footwear, so make sure that time is not causing any unexpected potential for problems.
In general, shoes and socks should always be comfortable, properly fitting, and protective of your feet. Certain types of shoes and socks are created with diabetic concerns in mind, not including seams that have the potential to rub against and irritate skin while walking. These may be worth consideration.
Whenever you’re putting on shoes, do check inside them to make sure nothing has made its way in that shouldn’t be there. You should also check the lining periodically to make sure it is not breaking down into rough patches.
More often than not, however, wearing your shoes whenever appropriate is a good way to keep them guarded against injury. This can even include inside your own home.
In some cases, when a patient has an irregular foot shape that places excessive amounts of stress on areas of the foot, or has conditions such as bunions and hammertoes where pressure can cause further problems, the use of custom orthotic inserts may be recommended.
If you have custom inserts, use them! They are a very important tool in helping to prevent the injuries and irritations that can lead to extra trouble in someone who has diabetes.
Keep Your Circulation in Mind
As a gradual decrease in circulation quality can often happen over the course of diabetes, building habits to improve and maintain blood flow can be very helpful in slowing the progression of negative effects to your feet.
Little things can have a big cumulative effect for circulation to your feet:
- Don’t cross your legs for extended periods of time.
- Wiggle your toes and shift your ankles up and down for a few minutes several times per day. Even better, get up and walk around a bit every hour, if you are able.
- Put your feet up while sitting when possible. This reduces the challenge gravity poses on getting blood back up from your feet and lower legs.
Daily exercise is also going to yield great benefits for your circulation. You don’t have to engage in anything extra-strenuous; a walking routine is great!
That said, certain types of exercise might be preferable for your particular situation, especially if you have other conditions or factors in play. It’s always best to speak with us or your primary diabetic doctor before starting any sort of new exercise routine.
Put Us in Your Corner
There is so much you can do for yourself to help maintain your foot health with diabetes, but having a professional for help and guidance is still essential.
Part of good diabetic foot care should involve periodic checkups with a podiatrist. We are trained to identify problems you might not see, as well as potential problems that can be addressed before they even arise.
And, in the case you do need treatment for a wound or other problem, having someone who knows your history will help you get that treatment faster and more effectively!
If you have questions about foot care, or would like to discuss setting up the best plans for your own, call our Lee’s Summit office at (816) 246-4222.