Diabetes and Your Feet

living with diabetes According to the American Diabetes Association, about 30.3 million people (9.4 % of the United States population) have diabetes. Nervous system damage (also called neuropathy) affects about 60 to 70 percent of people with diabetes and is a major complication that may cause diabetics to lose feeling in their feet or hands.

Foot problems are a big risk for people with diabetes. They must constantly monitor their feet. With a diabetic foot, a wound as small as a blister from wearing a shoe that’s too tight can cause a lot of damage. Diabetes decreases blood flow, so injuries are slow to heal. When your wound is not healing, it’s at risk for infection. As a diabetic, your infections spread quickly.

If you have diabetes, you should inspect your feet every day. You should look for puncture wounds, bruises, pressure areas, redness, warmth, blisters, ulcers, scratches, cuts and nail problems. Get someone to help you, or use a mirror.

The good news is that most of these problems can be prevented through regular podiatric visits, patient education, daily foot inspection and care, proper footwear, and early recognition and treatment of any suspected trouble areas. This can only be accomplished with active participation in your own care along with the help and guidance of your foot specialist.

Most Common Foot Problems for Diabetics:

1. Poor circulation

2. Infection

3. Calluses

4.Chronic Wounds/Foot ulcers

5. Neuropathy

6. Charcot foot

 

Diabetes can cause many foot problems that often lead to a much bigger problems such as infection, ulceration and sadly foot/leg amputation.  Poor circulation and nerve damage from diabetes can lead to nerve damage in the feet and legs.  When this occurs, one can develop neuropathy.  Neuropathy can make your feet “feel” sensations like burning, pins and needles, feel “like wood”, numb and/or other sensations.  Neuropathy also affects your balance and can make a person fall or feel “unsteady”.

Since nerves are often damaged from high blood sugar due to diabetes, the issue of not feeling when a wound has developed can lead to more serious problems.  It is common for a diabetic to step on a sharp object and never know that something punctured their foot.  They only notice it when they see the blood or drainage from infection on their sock or shoe.  Diabetes may also reduce blood flow to the feet, making healing much more difficult.  Ripepi Foot & Ankle Clinics can help if you are living with diabetic foot and ankle problems!

Key Actions

Fortunately, diabetic patients can decrease their chances for the problems discussed above (such as amputation) by doing a few KEY ACTIONS:

  1. Look at your feet EVERY DAY!  Dr. Ripepi has his diabetic patients look at their feet when they put their shoes and socks ON and when they take their shoes and socks OFF! (simple but important).
     
  2. Monitor your Blood sugar by knowing your A1C value.  Your A1C is a number that your family doctor uses (from routine blood work) to follow your “true” blood sugar reading for the last few months. Most family doctors want that value to be BELOW 7 (Lucky #7).  If it is higher, you are at risk for more problems and complications.
     
  3. Wear the CORRECT shoes!  Shoes can either help you or hurt you…and many of us wear the wrong shoes.  As a diabetic, many insurances pay for you to wear the CORRECT shoe thru the Diabetic Shoe Program.  If your insurance participates in this program, they cover a NEW pair every year (and the shoes look good too!).
     
  4. Visit your foot doctor AT LEAST once a year! Many of our diabetic patients are seen at our clinic more than this due to need…..BUT, Dr. Ripepi has a strict rule…..If a diabetic patient notices ANYTHING that is NOT normal, they are instructed to call our office and say “I am a diabetic…and having a problem”, we will schedule that patient an examination THAT DAY OR THE NEXT DAY in order to deal with that problem IMMEDIATELY (that gives all of us a better chance of limiting the extent of the problem).
     
  5. “KEEPA YOU HANDS OFF”.   Diabetic patients should not be performing any tasks or using sharp object on their feet.  Most diabetics have difficulty with eye sight (can’t see well), neuropathy (can’t feel their feet), limited mobility (can’t reach their feet) and often use blood thinners (Coumadin and/or baby aspirin), so they OFTEN cause significant problems TRYING TO DO TOO MUCH! At Ripepi Foot & Ankle Clinics we have a Diabetic Concierge on our team that will educate you on what you can and cannot do to your feet.

Note: Studies have shown that doing the above “KEY ACTIONS” can decrease your chance for a serious complication (such as amputation) by 70%!!! (you can do everything right and still have a problem, especially if you smoke and/or have poor circulation but can decrease your chances by a BIG NUMBER).

 

We offer the most up-to-date treatments and a full spectrum of services for our diabetics including:

  • Diabetes Education (with our Diabetic Concierge & Dr. Ripepi).
  • Wound care (including the newest Lasers use to heal ulcers & sores).
  • Diabetic Shoes and custom orthotic insoles.
  • Vascular Testing:  the newest technology, performed in our office, to test blood flow to your feet and lower legs.
  • MLS Laser Therapy 
  • Podiatry services
  • Balance Braces: supports that help “connect” patient to the ground to improve balance and prevent falls.
  • Socks 

Our Diabetic Concierge Program

Our Diabetic Concierge can help relieve pain and help prevent pain by working with our diabetic patients while they are in our office.  Our Diabetic Concierge will discuss your last A1C reading, your last vascular test, your last diabetic shoe order, your last PCP exam and any pain or changes in your feet or ankle.  This program helps us work with you to prevent as much as we can and build good habits.

Warning Signs for At Risk Feet:

  • Foot skin color changes
  • Edema (swelling)
  • Numbness, burning, tingling.
  • Pain in the feet or legs when walking or at rest
  • Open sores slow to heal
  • Ingrown toenails
  • Dry, cracked skin

If you have diabetes, you should always schedule an annual diabetic foot exam with a podiatrist, have your feet measured and fitted for diabetic shoes and orthotics.

Ripepi Foot & Ankle Clinics in Cleveland is the place to visit for excellent foot care.  Dr. Ripepi is a friendly and compassionate podiatrist who listens to what you have to say about your foot ailment.

Prevention is the best medicine for diabetic foot health.  Get a head start today by scheduling your diabetic foot exam.  Call Today!  440-843-3692.