Nerve damage is one of the many medical problems caused by diabetes, meaning patients are often unable to feel pain when they injure themselves or develop a foot blister or sore. These injuries can turn into ulcers, essentially open wounds on the feet, and could develop serious infections.
Diabetic ulcers often lead to amputation. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 65,000 people a year with diabetes in the U.S. are forced to have lower-extremity amputations.
With this in mind—as physicians, surgeons, and specialists—podiatrists recommend the following steps as preventive care for those with diabetes, according to the Podiatric Medical Board of California:
- An annual foot exam. Specially trained to treat conditions of the foot and ankle that are caused by diabetes, today’s podiatrist can help prevent complications before they happen.
- Daily self-examinations. Check your feet every day for cuts, bruises, sores, or changes to the toenails, such as thickening or discoloration. If you notice a change, make an appointment to see your podiatrist immediately.
- Professional foot care. Never try to treat calluses, ingrown toenails, or other foot conditions on your own. Home treatment is especially risky for people with diabetes who could develop dangerous infections.
- Comfortable, well-fitting footwear. Podiatrists recommend against going barefoot because of the high risk of injuring yourself without being aware of it. Wear well-fitting shoes and socks to protect your feet.
- A team approach. Today’s podiatrist will collaborate with a primary care physician and other specialists to establish the right approach for a patient’s needs. Podiatrists can provide a wide range of treatments, from conservative care of the skin and nails to surgical options for advanced wounds or complications involving bones of the feet.
For more information about podiatric medical doctors, visit the California Podiatric Medical Association at www.podiatrists.org and the American Podiatric Medical Association at www.apma.org. Before seeing a podiatric medical doctor, verify that their state license is active and in good standing through the Department of Consumer Affairs website at https://search.dca.ca.gov.