Updated: Jul 30, 2020
Diabetes can mean double trouble for your feet. First, diabetes can reduce blood flow to your feet, depriving your feet of oxygen and nutrients. This can make it more difficult for blisters, sores, and cuts to heal. Secondly, the diabetic nerve damage, peripheral neuropathy, can cause numbness and sharp pains in your feet. When you can’t feel cuts and blisters or are overly sensitive to touch, you’re more likely to get sores and infections. If these sores go unnoticed or untreated, they can become deeply infected, and may lead to amputation.
Fortunately, a little TLC goes a long way in preventing foot problems from diabetes. Below is ten simple but important tips every diabetic should perform to protect your feet and help prevent pain.
1. Check both feet daily.
Look over both feet carefully every day, and be sure you check between all of your toes. Blisters and infections can start between your toes, and with diabetic neuropathy, you may not feel them until they’ve become irritated or infected.
If a physical challenge keeps you from checking your own feet, ask a family member to help.
2. Wash with warm water and soap.
Avoid soaking too long in water, since waterlogged sores have a harder time healing. Dry your feet right away, remembering to dry gently between all of your toes.
3. Make sure your shoes fit well.
It’s an investment worth making. Even the slightest rubbing or misfit shoe can cause a blister that turns into a sore that becomes infected and never heals.
Since you may not be able to feel when it is getting worse, new shoes should be purchased even at the slightest sign of redness or irritation. Always be sure to check your shoes for cracks, sharp edges or other objects that could potentially hurt your feet. And always break in your shoes gradually.
4. Skip going barefoot.
Always wear shoes or slippers and socks with your shoes. Leather, plastics, and man-made shoe materials can irritate your skin and quickly bring on blisters.
We always advise to wear thicker socks to provide padding and more cushion to any calluses or sores.
5. Speak up.
Nerve damage can be unpredictable. Tell your doctor about any changes in sensation in your toes, feet, or legs. Speak up if you notice pain, tingling, a pins-and-needles feeling, numbness, or any other unusual signs – even if it seems trivial to you. Remember our goal is to avoid any foot amputations.
6. Moisturize but stay dry.
Your skin may be excessively dry and cracked skin means it’s easier for bacteria to get under your skin and harder for infections to heal. Use a small amount of lotion daily, and be sure your feet feel dry afterward. Do not apply the lotion in between your toes.
Keep your toenails trimmed and filed smooth to avoid ingrown toenails.
7. Try non-impact exercise.
Swimming, cycling, yoga, and tai chi are increasingly popular ways to exercise with minimal impact on your feet. Always talk with your doctor before starting a new exercise program.
8. Fix bunions, corns, and hammertoes.
If your big toe slants in toward your other toes, with a big bump on the knuckle of your big toe, you’ve got a classic bunion. Corns are spots of thick, rough skin, usually caused from too much rubbing or pressure. A buckled-under toe, called a hammertoe, can result from muscle weakness caused by nerve damage. All of these make it hard to fit shoes comfortably.
One of GSFA’s podiatrists can help you fix these problems and take better care of your feet.
9. Consider fitted orthotics.
A podiatrist can also fit you with shoe inserts called orthotics to support your feet. If pain or weakness is so severe that it’s too painful or even impossible to walk, a foot brace or orthopedic shoe might help. A podiatrist is your best source for these devices and we highly recommend that every diabetic sees a podiatrist regularly so contact us today.
10. Control your blood sugar.
The best prevention for nerve pain, ultimately, is to manage your diabetes well. The two most important determinants of whether you get diabetic neuropathy are how many years you have had diabetes and how well you control your blood sugar. Other factors, including controlling blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides, and not smoking are also important to prevent diabetic neuropathy.
Remember your feet are like the foundation to your body. Give your feet a little tenderness, a little love, and a little care each and every day and always be sure to have your doctor take a good look at your feet at every appointment to be certain nothing goes unnoticed. If you are in need of a podiatrist, we can help! Please contact us today to schedule an appointment so that we may provide you with the necessary care.