Diabetes can put a person at risk for a variety of foot complications. If diabetic foot problems are left untreated, they can lead to more serious complications such as amputation to remove the infected tissue or to save a limb. Amputation may be needed in order to save your life. This is why it is important to see our experienced podiatrists for regular foot exams and to learn ways to prevent foot problems from becoming more serious. Preventing diabetic amputations

How Foot Problems Lead to Amputation

According to the American Diabetes Association, many diabetics who experience foot complications and need amputations are smokers. This is because smoking affects the small blood vessels and decreases blood flow to the feet, causing wounds to heal slowly. Some diabetic conditions that can lead to amputation include:

  • Neuropathy. Neuropathy or nerve damage causes symptoms such as tingling, burning, foot weakness, and a loss of feeling in the feet. This is serious since an injury can go undetected and become infected.
  • Peripheral artery disease (PAD). PAD is a circulatory problem that is common in diabetics. It causes the arteries to narrow and restricts blood flow to the legs and feet. It can cause numbness making it hard to detect wounds or injuries to the feet. If PAD is left untreated and leads to more serious complications, amputation of a leg or foot may be needed.
  • Poor circulation. Poor circulation causes reduced blood flow to the feet and toes and makes wounds slow to heal or not heal at all.

Diabetic foot problems such as nonhealing foot ulcers are the cause of more than 80 percent of amputations. This is because the ulcer can cause damage to the underlying tissue and bone. The result may be amputation of the affected limb such as the foot or toe.

For those with diabetes, the best way to prevent severe complications with your feet is to keep your blood sugar levels properly managed. This can be done by eating a healthy diet, avoiding sugary snacks and drinks, maintaining a healthy body weight, and exercising daily. It is also important to take your diabetes medications and insulin as directed by your doctor.

Caring for Your Diabetic Feet

Taking good care of your feet and seeing a podiatrist when you have signs of a problem are important in preventing complications from becoming serious. Caring for your feet at home can help prevent foot ulcers or wounds from turning into a problem that might lead to amputation.

Some tips for diabetic foot care include:

  • Do a daily self-check of your feet. Check each foot carefully looking for any signs of infection, wounds, bruising, redness, or other abnormalities. If you are unable to do this yourself, ask a friend for assistance, or use a mirror.
  • Protect your feet by wearing clean, dry socks each day.
  • Wash your feet using warm water and a mild soap. Never soak your feet for long periods of time.
  • Be sure to dry your feet completely after washing especially between your toes.
  • Move your feet and toes throughout the day to keep the blood flowing.
  • Wear shoes that fit properly and are not too tight in the toes.
  • Avoid walking barefoot to prevent injuries to the bottoms of your feet.
  • Cut your toenails carefully, and always trim them straight across.

When to See a Podiatrist

If you notice any problems with your feet such as numbness, tingling, burning, or a change in temperature, color, or sensation, contact a podiatrist for an appointment. A podiatrist will examine your feet and determine the cause of the problem. If there is an infection, it will need treatment immediately. Many amputations are the result of an infection spreading to the bone or surrounding tissue.

If you are diabetic and have questions about how to care for your feet, contact the team at Alliance Foot & Ankle Specialists for a consultation. To schedule an appointment in our Grapevine or Keller office, fill out our convenient contact form, or call us today.