While scare tactics make for poor motivators, it’s hard to ignore the numbers when it comes to diabetes and the health of your feet. To start, every 17 seconds in the United States, someone is diagnosed with diabetes. But the really sobering statistic is the fact that 230 Americans with diabetes undergo an amputation each day, 85% of which are due to diabetic foot ulcers.
At Foot and Ankle Excellence, board-certified podiatrist Dr. Bruni Leka and our team specialize in diabetic foot care in an effort to offset these eye-opening numbers. To help our Philadelphia area patients safeguard their foot health, we’ve pulled together the following information on why a diabetic foot ulcer should never be ignored.
Diabetes and your feet
If you’ve been newly diagnosed with diabetes, there’s a lot to take in. This systemic and chronic disease, which affects how you regulate the glucose levels in your blood, can have a widespread impact on your health, from your eyes down to your feet.
At its core, diabetes causes a buildup of sugar in your bloodstream, either due to no insulin, not enough insulin, or insulin resistance. This buildup leads to serious problems with your circulation, which can greatly affect those areas that are farthest from your heart — such as your feet.
The foot health threat
When you have poor circulation in your lower extremities because of diabetes, your feet don’t get the resources they need for optimal health. This damages your peripheral nerves, which presents the first problem — if your nerves aren’t functioning correctly, you may be unable to feel when your foot is injured or when an ulcer develops.
Similarly, your foot won’t get the nutrient- and oxygen-rich blood it needs to heal properly from a wound or diabetic ulcer, either. This can lead to infection, tissue death, and — in the worst-case scenario — amputation.
Thankfully, this can be avoided with the right diabetic foot care and vigilance.
Taking care of your feet
While we provide comprehensive diabetic foot care, you still need to do your part at home. The most important thing you can do to preserve your foot health is to manage your blood sugar levels properly.
You should also inspect your feet daily and check for any wounds or open skin. Even a bad case of toenail fungus or a nasty corn or callus can lead to openings in your skin that invite infection.
You should also gently wash and dry your feet daily and never go barefoot. Instead, keep your feet warm and protected at all times with clean shoes and socks.
Lastly, never try and remedy a problem on your own. At the first signs of a wound or ulcer, we urge you to see us as soon as possible so we can help your foot heal properly and without infection.
To do this, we clean and disinfect the wound (debride) in an effort to prevent an infection from irreparably damaging your tissue or getting into your bones. We may also put you on a course of antibiotics.
We make every effort to preserve your feet, and the earlier we can intervene, the better. This means that the first step is, quite literally, yours to make. By seeking our help at the first signs of a problem, your chances of healing from a diabetic foot ulcer rise exponentially.
To learn more about diabetic foot ulcers, please give us a call at (215) 234-7876 or use the convenient online scheduling tool to set up an appointment.