Diabetic Foot: Symptoms and Solutions
For most diabetics the ultimate fear is that the disease will result in heart disease, however the possibility of foot amputation is a possibility in severe cases of diabetic foot. It is important for diabetics to get diabetic foot care in Los Angeles. Diabetes is the inability to properly regulate insulin in the body. Because the body is unable to regulate insulin it is unable to convert foods into energy. The inability to convert starches, sugars and other foods to energy over a prolonged period of time can create a plethora of issues to sufferers of diabetes, including many foot related issues.
Today’s podiatrists play a strong key role in helping patients with diabetes to manage their symptoms as well as prevent and treat diabetic related foot problems. In the United States alone over 65,000 non-traumatic lower extremity amputations occurred due to diabetes. In fact, diabetes related amputations make up for over 60% of all non-traumatic lower extremity amputations. The keys to treating diabetic foot and preventing amputations is early recognition, regular foot screenings and having a well-trained podiatrist who understands diabetic foot care in Los Angeles.
How Do I Know if I Have A Diabetic Foot?
Diabetes can cause severe, even potentially life threatening, complications to your feet. As stated above it is very important to catch diabetic foot as early as possible to prevent the need for an amputation or before the diabetic foot complications progress. In addition to regularly visiting a podiatrist for diabetic foot care in Los Angeles, there are various ways for sufferers of diabetes to identify if they have diabetic foot. Some of the prominent diabetic foot symptoms are:
- Decreased Blood Flow to The Feet
Diabetes results in poor blood circulation and causes a decreased flow of blood to the feet. This presents itself in the form of tingling, numbness, throbbing pain or muscle cramps in the foot. Regardless of whether you have been diagnosed with diabetes or not it is important to visit a podiatrist in Los Angeles when these symptoms arise.
- Decreased Healing Ability in The Feet
For patients with diabetic foot, the ability for the body to properly heal the foot when complications occur is significantly lowered. In addition to decreasing the blood flow to the feet, diabetic foot also causes the ability for issues such as bleeding, pain, corns and calluses to heal quickly. If you notice pain in the foot or see corns and calluses on the foot that have persisted and not healed, it is important to visit a podiatrist in Los Angeles.
- Loss of Sensation in The Feet
If you are unsure if you are suffering from diabetic feet, one of the most common and noticeable symptoms to identify is the loss of sensation in the feet. Partially due to the poor blood circulation caused by diabetes, sufferers of diabetic foot will lose much of their sensation in the feet and potentially experience an odd numbing and tingling sensation in their feet.
Diabetes Related Foot Conditions
There are various conditions that occur as a result of diabetes in the foot. Many of these conditions contribute to the symptoms seen above that notify sufferers that they in fact have diabetic foot. Some of the diabetes related foot conditions are:
- Diabetic Neuropathy
Various forms of diabetic neuropathy exist, the most common of which is peripheral diabetic neuropathy. Peripheral diabetic neuropathy greatly contributes to the warning symptoms of diabetic foot. In fact, diabetic peripheral neuropathy is the cause of various foot related ailments including:
- Numbness and reduced ability to feel pain.
- Sharp pains and a burning tingling sensation in the foot.
- Severely increased sensitivity to touch- for some wearing socks can cause excruciating pain
- Muscle loss and weakness
- Loss of balance and reflexes
- Various severe foot problems including ulcers, joint pain and often times even infections
- Charcot Foot
Charcot neuropathic osteoarthropathy, commonly referred to as the Charcot foot, is a diabetes caused condition that affects the bones, joints and soft tissues of the feet. The charcot foot condition is often caused due to a case of diabetic peripheral neuropathy and can create a plethora of dangerous and potentially life threatening foot related issues. Charcot foot causes severe weakening and fracturing of the bones in the feet. Ultimately the condition can lead to deformity, disability and even amputation.
Treatment for charcot neuropathic osteoarthropathy is complicated but necessary for the prevention of amputation. In severe cases surgery may be necessary, a specialist and podiatrist likely will also special shoes or custom orthotics following treatment. Regardless of the degree to which charcot foot has reached it is important to treat the ailment quickly and efficiently as to prevent further deformity, ulceration and eventual amputation. In order to prevent or charcot foot it is essential to have diabetic foot care in Los Angeles.
- Dermatological Issues
Diabetic foot can lead to and cause a vast amount of outer foot related ailments. In fact, diabetic foot can result in the shearing of the skin on the feet which causes blisters or ulceration. Additionally, diabetic foot can lead to corns, calluses, toenail deformity, bleeding and even infection of the feet.
How do I protect myself against having a diabetic foot?
Having a diabetic foot is dangerous and can severely alter your life, or in rare cases end it. If you have diabetes it is important you visit a podiatrist in Los Angeles regularly to monitor for diabetic foot symptoms through a diabetes foot exam. In addition to visiting a podiatrist for diabetic foot care in Los Angeles, there are various means of protecting yourself against diabetic foot including:
- Make Sure Your Shoes Fit Properly
Proper fitting shoes, and in some cases proper custom orthotics, are a necessary investment to make when you suffer from diabetes. Ill properly fitting shoes can result in a blister, scrape or cut that is very likely to become infected if you have diabetes. Infections lead to a plethora of foot issues and can unfortunately result in amputation in severe cases.
When buying new shoes seek out custom made shoes or better form fitting shoes. In some cases, even changing socks can provide enough cushion in the shoes and prevent blisters or cuts. Additionally, you should gradually break in your shoes.
- Check Both Feet Often
In addition to regular diabetes foot exams with a podiatrist in Los Angeles it is essential that diabetes sufferers check their own feet often. Checking your feet once a day, and keeping an eye out for symptoms like numbness or pain in the feet, is necessary in monitoring for progressing foot ailments and the potential of diabetic foot. When analyzing your feet watch for blisters, cuts and other foot bruises or cuts that may not hurt until they become irritated or infected.
- Don’t Go Barefoot
Even when indoors, it is important to wear slippers, socks or shoes at all times. By covering and protecting your feet you can properly protect calluses and bruises and prevent infection.
- Fix Other Foot Related Issues
Various other foot ailments can lead to diabetic foot for those with diabetes. It is essential to correct other foot issues to prevent diabetic foot. If you have other foot ailments visit a podiatrist in Los Angeles to properly heal the issues. Additionally, with diabetes it is important to wear properly fitting shoes, with ailments like corns, calluses and hammertoes it is impossible to do so. Corns are large spots of thick built up skin and will not allow you to fit in your shoes properly. In the same manner hammertoes are a buckled under toe, often seen in diabetics, that makes wearing proper fitting shoes impossible.
- Properly Manage Your Blood Sugar
One of the most important, and perhaps most effective, means for protecting against diabetic foot is to properly manage and control your blood sugar. In fact, a 2006 study by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases showed that strict blood glucose control with intensive insulin therapy lowered the chances in people with type I (insulin requiring) diabetes of having symptoms of peripheral neuropathy which includes tingling, burning, and pain, by 64%. The study also found that these results held for type II diabetics as well. By properly managing your blood sugar and regularly visiting a podiatrist in Los Angeles you can greatly reduce the risk of diabetic foot.
- Properly Wash and Dry Your Feet Regularly
In addition to regularly washing your feet, it is important to properly wash and dry your feet. Wash your feet in warm, not hot water, and do not soak the feet for long. Soaking your feet can cause sores to heal slower and create more progressively worse issues. Waterlogged feet heal slow, for this reason it is also important to properly dry your feet and wear form fitting socks or slippers after washing your feet as well.
What Can a Podiatrist Do for Me?
Podiatrists are a key part of providing appropriate care for diabetics in order to prevent diabetic foot or progressive worsening of the many foot ailments that accompany diabetes. Most podiatrists recommend annual examinations at a minimum for diabetics. However, for diabetics with peripheral neuropathy that can no longer feel pain in their feet, it is essential to monitor your feet every day on your own and see a podiatrist more often. For diabetics with some risk factors such as pain or swelling it is recommended to see a podiatrist twice in a year. For those who have existing foot conditions, such as ulcers, calluses and corns, it is recommended that you see a podiatrist in Los Angeles frequently. If you have diabetes you should visit Dr. Jamshidinia who will provide more accurate details of how often it is necessary to have a diabetes foot exam. The comprehensive foot examinations monitor foot abnormalities and evaluate foot pulses, sensation and foot biomechanics.
Diabetes can be very dangerous and cause various foot related issues that if not monitored properly can lead to infection or amputation of the foot. With over 25 million people affected by diabetes and over 80 million people in America considered “pre-diabetes”, diabetes touches everyone. It is important that diabetics closely monitor their feet and regularly visit a podiatrist in Los Angeles. If you are seeking diabetic foot care in Los Angeles give us a call at 310.247.9255.