Why Do People with Diabetes Need Regular Foot Exams?
Having a health condition like diabetes requires the utmost attention to your health. This includes making a habit of performing daily foot exams and regularly seeing your doctor to avoid any complications. By monitoring your feet on a daily basis, you can help reduce your chances of developing foot conditions that lead to severe complications.
Why are Regular Foot Exams Necessary?
According to the Joslin Diabetes Center, 1 in 4 people with diabetes will develop a foot condition that requires intervention. This means proper foot care is vital to overall health for those living with diabetes. One common condition that can lead to further complications is Neuropathy.
Neuropathy is the result of nerve damage that will cause difficulty or the overall inability to feel your feet. Neuropathy is common in people with diabetes because high blood sugar damages the nerve fibers in your body.
What makes Neuropathy a major concern is you can get foot injuries without realizing you even have them. The Journal of Family Practice performed a study that reports that up to half of people who have a sensory loss from Neuropathy may have no symptoms at all, thus leading to further foot damage.
Other serious foot conditions that can develop due to diabetes include:
- Bone and joint pain
- Vascular disease
- Changes in skin temperature
- Breakdown of skin
By neglecting regular foot care, or refusing to seek intervention for a developing condition, you can cause worsening symptoms and more serious treatments.
How to Give Yourself a Foot Exam
Those with diabetes should know some of the basic procedures that involve daily foot care. One of these being a foot self-exam that includes looking for changes to the feet, such as:
- Cuts, cracks, blisters, or sores
- Changes in foot color
- Changes in foot temperature
- Changes to the size or shape of the foot
- Ingrown toenails
If you are unable to get a clear view of your entire foot, try using a mirror to help you examine them, or you can ask a friend or loved one to assist you in your foot exam. While daily foot monitoring can seem like a pain, it can help reduce complicated conditions that may develop due to diabetes.
When to See Your Podiatrist
If you are taking care of yourself and performing your daily foot exams, you should only need to contact your Podiatrist if you notice any changes to your feet. Do not treat any abnormalities of your feet at home. Your Podiatrist will evaluate the condition and perform the necessary tests to determine the diagnoses. By seeing a Podiatrist as soon as you notice a change, you can reduce your risk of further complications.
For those that have diabetes, you should be seeing your Podiatrist at least once a year for a preventative foot exam.
Preventative Foot Exams
During your annual exam with your Podiatrist, they will take a look at your health history, ask about your diabetes, including how you manage it and whether you’ve had any complications from it. Your Podiatrist might also ask about your smoking habits because smoking can lead to further foot complications related to poor circulation and nerve damage.
After inquiring about your health, they will then conduct a physical exam. This can include a general review of your feet, as well as checking the skin, musculoskeletal components, vascular system, and nerves.
Diabetic Foot Treatment and Prevention
Foot conditions caused by diabetes can range in severity. Prevention is ultimately the best defense for treatment, but this isn’t always possible. If found early, serious foot conditions involving bone deformities or ulcers may be treated with a cast. Your Podiatrist might also recommend a brace or specialized shoe to help with the treatment of ulcers. More serious conditions may require surgical procedures. Recovery from these surgeries can take several weeks or months.
Your best option for the prevention or treatment of your foot is to consult a Podiatrist. They have the specialized education that allows them to make informed decisions about the health and condition of your feet. If you have diabetes and are worried about an ongoing condition, please reach out to one of our Podiatrists so we can get you treated immediately.