Don’t Go It Alone! Why Diabetic Foot Care is a Team Sport
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Living with diabetes can feel isolating sometimes, can it not?
Going through life while making the best choices for yourself can be challenging, especially when others don’t fully understand your situation. You’d think there would be so many fewer awkward moments (given how many people have this condition), yet there are still plenty of parties and events out there where you won’t have any great options to eat.
Diabetic foot care is an essential part of anyone’s overall plan for diabetes management. Taking simple yet vigilant steps toward maintaining the health of your feet can pay massive dividends in the future, helping you prevent creeping threats to your comfort, mobility, and overall well-being.
Many elements of diabetic foot care can be performed solo, and that is perfectly fine. But it’s not something you should perform entirely alone. You should also have trusted professionals in your corner for when you need them, and we strive to serve exactly that role for you.
Together, we can keep your feet in top shape against a real threat.
What We’re Fighting Against
You are likely well-aware that diabetes can have multiple negative effects on the human body, and that these effects gradually worsen over time.
This is no less true in the feet. In fact, they tend to be at a higher risk of complications than other parts of us simply due to their location and use.
“Out of sight, out of mind” is a true phenomenon, and our feet tend to be out of sight more often than not! When they aren’t concealed in our shoes, they hang out down beneath the rest of us. The only time we might ever really see the bottoms of our feet is when washing them in the shower, and we sometimes don’t even look then.
And yet we also use our feet so much on a daily basis. They almost always are in contact with something, whether we’re talking about the insides of our shoes or the outside world. That leaves plenty of opportunity for friction, roughness, and injury.
Under normal circumstances, a small nick or some dryness isn’t really something to worry about. With diabetes in the picture, however, small problems have the capability to become much larger.
The location of our feet not only makes them a bit harder to see, but a bit harder to get blood to, as well. There’s a lot of track between our hearts and our feet, after all—and then there’s usually an upward climb to get back to the start!
Blood is vitally important to the healing process because it brings nutrients, growth factors, and many other tools cells need to conduct repairs.
However, the effects of diabetes can cause circulation to weaken throughout the body. When it does, the feet tend to feel it first. This mean that, over time, healing in the feet can take longer. It can even reach a point where healing might not happen at all without some form of medical intervention.
That is bad enough in itself. When it gets combined with another effect of diabetes—nerve damage (neuropathy)—it becomes even more dangerous. As nerves weaken, your ability to sense pain and other sensations can as well.
Ultimately, you can reach a point where you could have an injury on your foot and not even feel it. Combine that with a reduced healing factor and you can be causing greater damage by continuing to walk around on an unnoticed wound.
All that pressure from normal use can then make cause the wound to open and deepen further—to the point that it becomes an ulcer. And your risk of infection ris es the whole time.
Such a circumstance may sound like a far-out notion, especially if your feet feel fine now, but (sadly) it happens all the time. Fortunately, having a team approach to your diabetic foot care can greatly reduce these risks.
What You Can Do; What We Can Do
So how does this team-up work?
Well, the ball is firmly in your court every day. In addition to managing your diabetes well, the best way you can help your feet is by giving them a daily self-inspection.
Make a habit of looking over your feet at a convenient time (like before or after a shower or at bedtime) to search for any signs of trouble. This can include:
- Toenail problems (like fungus or ingrown nails)
- Corns or calluses
Basically, anything that should not belong there. You get the picture.
If you find anything, that’s when you give us a call and let us know.
Now, we will likely not tell you to come in with every report you make to us. We will if it sounds like something we need to take a closer look at, but we may just ask you to keep an eye on more minor concerns. The important part is that we have a record of what’s happening to your feet. This can help our side of the team out greatly.
Our role is to track the health of your feet over time. When problems arise, we can treat them directly; but even better is taking steps and making recommendations to help prevent those problems from arising in the first place.
We can examine your feet regularly (perhaps every year, but the schedule can change based on need) and review your history to gain a clearer picture of what changes we might need to make. We may recommend different footwear, custom orthotics to take excess pressure off trouble spots, physical therapy, or other forms of preventative care.
Don’t Delay on Diabetic Foot Care
If you have diabetes, it’s time to start a diabetic foot care plan now. Waiting until you reach a point where “you definitely need it” is waiting too long. Preventable damage has likely already occurred.
Associates in Podiatry is here to guide you through the best care and practices for diabetic feet. Schedule an appointment with us by calling either of our area offices:
- Princeton – (609) 924-8333
- Roselle Park – (908) 687-5757
If you prefer to contact us electronically, you can also reach us via our online form. Simply submit any questions or requests and a member of our office will get back to you.