What kind of relationship do you have with your foot doctor?
We know, we know. The question seems pretty silly on the surface.
But here’s the truth: If you have diabetes, you should make a point to develop a good one with a local foot doctor.
(If you’re in the Tampa Bay area, we hope you’ll choose us, of course. But the most important thing is that you find a professional near you who you can trust.)
For those who don’t take their foot care seriously, unchecked diabetes can have disastrous repercussions. You could lose your foot. You could lose your life. Thousands and thousands of Americans do every year—for reasons that are almost entirely preventable.
In the next section of this blog, we’ll talk a little bit about just what can happen. But before you get too concerned, know also that it’s not all doom and gloom. More on that in a bit. But first …
Diabetes Can Destroy Your Foot Health—and Wreck Your Life
Destroy. Wreck. We don’t use that kind of language lightly. We’re serious.
Consider that diabetes is the main underlying cause in more than 70,000 lower limb amputation per year, in the United States alone. (Dr. Tenenboym himself used to perform 3-4 amputations per week, every week.)
Only about half of patients who have undergone a major diabetes-related lower limb amputation are still living just five years after their procedure. And of course, those that do survive must learn to live and cope with the increased pain, reduced mobility, and reduced independence.
If you don’t manage your diabetes or take care of your feet, here’s what you might have to look forward to:
- Peripheral neuropathy. Nerves in the feet and legs gradually sustain damage and weaken over time. Phantom pain and uncomfortable sensations (burning, tingling, shocking, etc.) gradually succumb to complete numbness. Tasks you used to take for granted—driving a car, walking down the beach, etc.—may become difficult or impossible to perform safely.
- Poor circulation. Without steady blood flow, the cells in your feet don’t get the oxygen or nutrients they need to function properly. Wounds take much longer to heal, and your immune system can’t fight off infections efficiently. Symptoms can include everything from cold feet and cramping to gangrene.
- Diabetic wounds. The natural consequence of the above conditions. You can’t feel your feet well enough to know they’ve been injured, and once injured, your body can’t repair the damage or keep germs out. Without prompt care, even small cuts can progress into wounds and become infected. If the infection can’t be counteracted or controlled, amputation may be necessary.
- Charcot foot.If your neuropathy is extreme, you might not even be able to feel weakened foot bones literally breaking and crumbling—even as you walk on them all day. This can lead to extreme deformity and disfigurement of the foot, and often leads to amputation.
Which Path Will You Take?
Earlier, we told you that it’s not all doom and gloom. Remember?
See, here’s the thing. With many medical conditions—genetic disorders, most cancers, etc.—you don’t really get a choice about what happens to you. You can do everything right and still get sick.
But when it comes to diabetic foot complications, that’s typically not the way it goes.
Yes, despite your best efforts, you may still develop some symptoms or neuropathy or vascular issues. But almost all of the worst outcomes—severe nerve damage, ulcers, wounds, Charcot foot, amputation—are mostly preventable.
It’s not even really that hard, either, if you have the discipline. A commitment to eating right, exercising, and developing healthy habits. A few minutes per day to check your feet for injuries.
And—to bring us back full circle—developing that relationship with your foot doctor.
So, which path will you choose? Being proactive with your foot care? Or taking the risk that you might lose it all?
How We Can Help
Even if you’ve never had trouble with your feet before, checking in with us once per year is a crucialstep you need to take if you want to protect yourself as much as possible from future complications.
See, many diabetic foot complications don’t produce symptoms at first. By the time you actually notice the tingling or cramping from peripheral neuropathy or poor circulation, the amount of damage to your system may already be extensive—and often irreversible.
But our office can order vascular and nerve screening tests—simple, non-invasive, in-office procedures—that can identify the warning signs long before we can. And that means we can help you stop the progression of damage beforeit severely impacts your life.
And on top of that, we provide a comprehensive range of treatments and preventative care options for our patients with diabetes—whether you’re a “low risk” patient with no history of foot problems or you’ve struggled with foot wounds in the past.
- We are one of the few offices in the area providing a wide selection of diabetic shoes, right off the rack. (Of course, we can order something if we don’t quite have what you need, too.) Diabetic shoes are designed to accommodate the particular needs of diabetic feet, including extra depth for orthotics, seamless interiors, and added protection.
- We offer comprehensive wound care services. Most diabetic wounds can be treated right from our office, although if necessary we can use the local wound care center. We have access to advanced care options, including hyperbaric oxygen therapy, biologics and stem cell treatments, and more.
- When you have diabetes, every adverse foot condition becomes more dangerous—ingrown toenails, dry and cracked skin, etc. We’ll help you manage all your foot care needs in a safe and sterile environment.
So, we’ll ask you again: “What kind of relationship do you have with your foot doctor?”
If you’d like to have a greatone, give Dr. Dennis Tenenboym and the diabetic foot care experts at Precision Foot & Ankle a call today—especially if it’s been more than a year since your last check-up. We’ll get you in as soon as possible!