Updated: Jul 29, 2020
If you’re living with diabetes, we probably don’t have to tell you how vulnerable your feet and ankles are. Poor circulation, weakening bones, swelling, and nerve damage conspire to not only make your feet more susceptible to both injury and infection, but also more likely to escape your initial detection. The long-term consequences can be disastrous, including long-term disability or even amputation.
At Gulf South Foot and Ankle, we provide comprehensive diabetic foot care, including annual check-ups, circulatory testing, diabetic shoe fitting, and wound care. However, the single most important member of your diabetic foot care team is you! Since an injury can happen at any time—but we can’t see you every day—your daily self-exams are an absolutely critical component of keeping your feet healthy for long haul.
Here are a few tips to help you get the most out of your self-exams:
Check your feet right after you’ve cleaned and dried them, at least once per day.
Check your feet in a brightly lit area.
Use a small hand mirror if you have trouble viewing hard-to-access areas up close—soles, outside edges, between toes, etc. This will help you observe your entire foot safely and comfortably, without overstretching or straining.
If a loved one is available, ask them to help you out.
Scan soles, toes, heels, and tops of feet carefully for bumps, irregular textures, blisters, corns, calluses—anything out of the order.
Spread toes apart with your fingers so you can get a good look between, including the sides of the toes.
Sometimes you can feel a problem, even if you can’t see it. Applying gentle pressure, slowly feel your entire foot with your hands for any bumps, cuts, dry skin, swelling, or temperature changes. Squeeze toes gently and see how long it takes color to return—it should be five seconds or less.
A foot thermometer is a great tool to incorporate into your exams, especially if you’ve had issues with ulcers in the past. Temperature irregularities can be a sign of either infection or poor circulation.
Since some issues may develop slowly, track changes to your feet over time. You can do this by journaling about what you find, or taking pictures of what you see. This can help you identify emerging problems or determine whether existing issues are getting worse more quickly.
Self-exams don’t have to take a long time—five or ten minutes from start to finish. And that time could end up saving your toe, your foot, or even your life. To schedule your annual checkup, or to address any existing concerns, give us a call at (504) 708-4810 for the Metairie, LA office, or (985) 809-1464 for Covington, LA.