How Diabetes Affects Foot Health
There are many services we provide for patients here at our Roseburg, OR podiatry office, but one of the most important is diabetic foot care. When people hear this, they can be surprised. A likely reason for their reaction is that a lot of folks do not understand how diabetes affects feet.
To provide some background, insulin is a hormone that enables sugar to enter the body’s cells and be used for energy. When an individual has diabetes, either the body does not produce enough insulin or cells do not respond correctly to the hormone. (In some cases, both situations exist concurrently.) This leads to elevated levels of glucose (sugar) in the blood stream.
The disease can affect feet in several ways, including:
- Diabetic neuropathy. Excess glucose in the blood can cause nerve damage (neuropathy). This is particularly concerning for feet because A) they are often covered by footwear, B) they sustain tremendous amounts of pressure that can cause damage, and C) they have a high risk for fungal and bacterial infections. With neuropathy, an affected individual may be unaware that a problem is present and needs to be addressed.
- Peripheral arterial disease. In addition to impaired sensations, peripheral arterial disease (diminished circulation) can be present. This results in body tissues (bone, muscles, etc.) not receiving the appropriate levels of nourishment that they need. Weakened bones, in particular, increase the risk of Charcot foot (breakdown of the foot structure resulting in deformity).
- Impaired immune functions. Diabetes affects the body’s ability to heal wounds in a timely manner. What this means for feet is that any cuts, scrapes, or other issues that arise take longer to heal. During the extended period, the body is at heightened risk for infection. Given the body’s compromised immune function, it is unable to effectively fight off infection.
- Foot ulcers. Any abnormal health issue can be concerning when you live with diabetes, but foot ulcers are one of the most serious. When soft tissue breakdown (ulceration) happens, gangrene (tissue death) can eventually set in. There is no cure for gangrene and the only way to prevent its spread is through amputation.
It is essential that you keep your lower limbs safe if you are living with diabetes. There are obviously various measures that need to be taken, but perhaps the most important is connecting with an experienced foot doctor office that will help you create an effective diabetic foot care plan. Let us be that podiatrist practice for you!
Give our Roseburg, OR office a call at (541) 673-0742 to find out how we can help. Even better, schedule your appointment here at the office of G. Jason Wilks, DPM online today, so we can meet and talk in person and answer all of your questions.