The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that more than 100 million Americans are living with diabetes or prediabetes. Although you may think of the condition as a chemical imbalance where the body doesn’t process insulin properly, diabetes can have serious consequences for almost every system in the body.
For example, what may be a simple blister or cut on a non-diabetic person’s foot may lead to a dangerous foot ulcer if you have diabetes. It’s no wonder that diabetes ranks as the seventh leading cause of death in the United States.
Board-certified podiatrist Suchir K. Sheth, DPM, and the highly skilled medical team at Cardio Metabolic Institute offer comprehensive diabetic foot care. Here are their insights on why you should never ignore diabetic foot ulcers.
A foot ulcer is a deep, open sore that extends through the layers of your skin to tendons and even to the bone. Foot ulcers can form on the surface of the foot, the sole, the toes, and even the ankle. The primary characteristic of foot ulcers is that they’re slow healers.
Two common complications of diabetes, which can contribute to diabetic foot ulcers, are nerve damage and poor circulation. Because diabetes is a chronic condition, its effects can compound over time.
For instance, sustained high blood sugar can cause neuropathy, otherwise known as nerve damage. Nerve damage can have varied symptoms, but generally, it interferes with typical pain receptors — you can’t you tell the difference between hot and cold, and pain from a cut, blister, or sore may not register.
Further complicating matters is the fact that diabetes can lead to poor circulation by both narrowing the blood vessels and by causing inflammation within them. This combination of factors spells trouble to the estimated 10% of diabetics who develop foot ulcers.
And because diabetics’ sensitivity to pain is compromised, an injury like a blister or cut may go unnoticed. Circulation problems interfere with your body’s natural healing processes, increasing the possibility that a simple injury may turn into a severe infection. The soft tissue in the foot also enables infections to spread more quickly to muscles, which further complicates the situation.
Timely attention to foot injuries is essential for diabetics. Seeking immediate attention for a cut or foot ulcer is critical because slow healing and quickly spreading infections can have dangerous consequences — gangrene or tissue death may develop.
For this reason, it’s important to see a physician who’s specially trained in diabetic foot care. Job one is controlling the spread of infection before non-reversible tissue and bone damage occurs, which may require amputation. An astounding 80% of amputations start with a foot ulcer.
If you have diabetes, it’s important to develop a healthy foot care routine with a diabetic foot care specialist. Care can include:
Being vigilant in the care of your feet is extremely important. The caring medical team at Cardio Metabolic Institute in Somerset, Monroe Township, and East Brunswick, New Jersey, provides patients with exemplary comprehensive diabetic foot care services. Click or call today for your diabetic foot care appointment at the office nearest you.