Diabetes can have serious, life-changing, and potentially even fatal consequences for your feet if you don’t take care of them properly.
Dr. Tenenboym would know:
He used to perform 3-4 amputations per week, every week. Almost all of them were on diabetic patients with untreated, infected foot wounds. And according to a 2016 study, the five-year survival rate after a major amputation is less than 50%.
About 30 million Americans—including 1 out of 4 seniors age 65 and older—are currently living with diabetes. Foot problems are extremely common among this population, for a variety of reasons. Nerve health, circulation, and immune response can all be compromised—especially in the extremities.
In other words, you’re:
- more likely to get hurt in the first place
- less able to fight off infections and heal wounds
- potentially unable to “feel” the injury and thus less likely to notice it until it’s too late.
If that all sounds scary … it should!
But there’s another side to this story.
Most of the worst diabetic foot complications (and the consequences thereafter) will only occur if you let them. Routine preventative care can catch the vast majority of problems before they become serious. And even serious problems can usually be treated and reversed if you seek aggressive, early intervention.
Your diabetic foot care plan should have three basic components:
- Preventative home care (every day)
- Routine professional care (at least once per year)
- Advanced wound care (when necessary)
No one has more control over the long-term health of your feet than you do. What you do every day matters more than what we do for you once a month, or once a year.
Here are some of the proactive, preventative measures you should already be taking:
- Give yourself a complete foot and ankle self-exam at least once per day. Note any signs of injury, swelling, bumps, etc. Call us immediately if you detect any open sores, or if problems do not heal or get worse.
- Wash your feet daily with soap and water. Keep them moisturized as well—except between the toes.
- Encourage healthy circulation by exercising regularly and even wiggling your toes and shifting your weight throughout the day.
- Wear appropriate shoes to protect your feet at all times—even indoors.
- Manage your diabetes as best you can. That may include carefully monitoring and regulating your blood sugar, careful dieting, exercising, maintaining a healthy bodyweight, etc.
Routine Diabetic Foot Care
After being diligent with your home care, what’s the next most important step you can take to protect your feet? Having a good relationship with your podiatrist!
Even if you’ve never had a diabetic foot complication in the past, we strongly recommend a routine diabetic examination and checkup at least once per year. We can often identify and address risk factors or emerging problems before symptoms become apparent.
If you have had foot problems in the past, it may be wise to see us more than once per year. We can discuss this with you at your appointment.
During your visit, we can help with:
- Identifying risk factors and diagnosing conditions BEFORE they become serious. In addition to a physical examination, we also offer diagnostic technologies such as doppler waveform and vascular testing. This helps us measure the health of your circulation and nerves and assess your risk of ulceration.
- Providing routine care. People with diabetes often struggle with basic footcare concerns, including thick toenails, dry and cracked skin, corns and calluses, etc. These and other problems can be painful, and also increase your risk of ulceration. We will help you treat them in a safe environment.
- Prescribing preventative care. If you need custom orthotics or diabetic shoes to help keep your feet safe, we are happy to fit, prescribe, and dispense these for you. We can also help with general shoe gear advice, exercise and activity recommendations, information on healthy dieting, etc.
Advanced Wound Care
There is no such thing as a “minor” foot wound if you have diabetes, neuropathy, or any other condition affecting your circulation, immune system, or nerve health. A hole in the bottom of your foot is not normal!
Festering ulcers and open sores, if left unaddressed, can get worse and worse until amputation is the only viable option. This is an emergency—which is why, if you have a diabetic wound that needs attention, we’ll do everything to get you in to see us within 24 hours.
We can treat wounds both on-site or, if necessary, at the local wound care center. This includes care for conditions including:
- Diabetic foot ulcers
- Venous leg ulcers
- Arterial ulcers
- Hypertensive ulcers
- Traumatic wounds
Some of the advanced treatment options and procedures we can provide include:
- Multi-layer compression wraps and stockings
- Dressing changes
- Total contact casting
- Unna boots
- Advanced biologics and stem cells
- Hyperbaric oxygen therapy
Of course, we will also make sure you’re prepared with all the information you need for aftercare, and prescribe any appropriate preventative treatments (such as orthotics and diabetic shoes).
It bears repeating: almost all of the most severe diabetic foot complications can be prevented with diligent attention and care.
Don’t Wait Around for Proper Wound Care
Don’t forget to check your feet and possibly miss an injury until it’s been festering for days.
Don’t skip your annual checkup.
Don’t wait until the last possible instant to treat a worsening wound.
We want to help you keep your feet—and keep your lifestyle and independence, so give us a call today at (727) 399-7167 and request your appointment.