Sometimes the concerns that have the greatest impact on your lower limb health are not direct injuries to your feet or ankles, but conditions that affect your body as a whole. Your feet are more than just stumps you stand on. They are an integral part of your body and can reveal a lot about your overall health. For that reason, problems like diabetic feet are more than just painful or inconvenient. They can threaten your whole body by damaging your foundation. Taking care of your feet now is the best way to prevent pain and possible limb loss later.
Risks and Complications
Diabetes touches every area of your body, including your lower limbs. Elevated sugar levels damage your blood vessels, which in turn hurts the organs, nerves, and other tissues throughout your body. Your feet are one of the first places to feel the effect, and remain at high risk for sustaining serious—even life-threatening—complications as result. Since the fluctuating sugars damage your nerves, you may struggle with nerve pain or be unable to feel small injuries. Diabetes also compromises your immune system, so problems that do arise are not able to heal as well. Peripheral neuropathy, ulcers, and amputation are some of the most serious complications that can arise.
However, diabetes doesn’t have to spell the end for your lower limbs and your activities. Even if you do develop diabetic foot complications, there are ways for you to protect your lower limbs and avoid the potentially life-threatening problems. You need to be intentional and work with your health team, including foot specialists like those here at Martin Foot and Ankle, to monitor and manage your health and your foot-related symptoms.
Foot Care Do’s and Don’ts
A diabetic foot involves some degree of nerve damage and an increased risk of infection, so you need to take extra precautions to clean and protect your feet. Yearly check-ups with your podiatrist here at Martin Foot and Ankle helps you make sure you stay on track with your basic foot health, as well as look for any issues that you may not have noticed. On your own, make sure you gently wash and dry your feet every day. Also take the opportunity to check for problems you may not feel, like cuts, bruises, sores, lumps, bumps, distortions or discolorations in the skin or nails, or any other unusual changes. When you care for your feet, you should always remember to:
Use warm, not hot, water to wash.
Use a mild soap and pat the feet dry, rather than rubbing.
Use a lotion or ointment to keep your skin moist (but not between toes).
Clip your toenails straight across, so the edges are left intact.
Use a mirror to check the bottom of your feet for changes.
Exercises regularly to help improve blood flow to your lower limbs.
Wear shoes with sufficient padding and support.
Don’t walk around barefoot. Use shoes or slippers to act as a barrier between you and objects that could cut or irritate your lower limbs. Don’t smoke or consume too much alcohol, either—that can have a negative effect on your circulation that your body can’t afford. If you do notice any changes, or you experience any discomfort in your lower limbs, have it investigated immediately. That way any problems that do arise can be addressed before they have a chance to get out of hand.
Diabetes may affect every area of your body, but it doesn’t have to cause pain and keep you from living a full life. Investing in your lower limbs to avoid diabetic foot complications can help you manage the condition and stay pain-free. If you have diabetes, contact Martin Foot and Ankle to take care of your lower limbs before the problems begin. Visit the online contact page or call us at (717) 757-3537 for more information or an appointment at our York, Hanover, Lititz and Lancaster podiatry offices.
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