The disease known as diabetes mellitus affects many parts of the body, especially the feet. It is very important that a person who is diabetic pays special attention to the care of their feet.
Diabetes is a disease caused when the body does not produce enough insulin, or in which the body’s insulin is incapable of performing its action. Insulin is a substance produced in the pancreas gland. It helps us turn food into energy.
Four major effects that diabetes can have on the feet:
Infections: Infection is one of the most common complications affecting the diabetic foot. Diabetes impairs the immune response of the body. Simple foot infections can turn into major problems if not treated at an early stage.
Gangrene and amputation can be the final results of untreated infections. More hospital days are spent treating diabetic foot infections than any other complication of diabetes. Thirty-five to forty thousand major amputations occur in this country every year due to diabetes.
Peripheral vascular disease (PVD): Peripheral vascular disease refers to poor blood flow due to the constricting of blood vessels. Vascular insufficiency is an important contributor to infections of the lower extremities.
Neuropathy: Neuropathy or inadequate nerve supply is a complication of diabetes that causes decreased sensation to pain and temperature. This can cause the patient to underestimate the seriousness of their foot problem.
Ulcerations of the skin: Ulcerations of the skin are at an increased risk in diabetic patients. An ulcer is a localized skin defect with inflammation or infection. A crack or break in the skin can become an ulcer if not properly treated. Ulcers can be caused by poor circulation, lack of soft tissue protection, excessive callus tissue, pressure from other deformities, and improperly fitted shoes.
Three basic steps for proper foot care for the diabetic:
• Regular preventive foot care by your podiatrist
• Avoid injuries to the feet
• Wear properly fitted shoes