Diabetic foot problems are a major health concern and are a common cause of hospitalization in India. There are approximately 60 million diabetics in India( second only to china), and almost 30% of them develop foot complications during their lifetime.
Most foot problems that people with diabetes face arise from two serious complications of the disease: nerve damage and poor circulation. The lack of feeling and poor blood flow can allow a small blister to progress to a serious infection in a matter of days. Chronic nerve damage (neuropathy) can cause dry and cracked skin, which provides an opportunity for bacteria to enter and cause infection.
The consequences can range from hospitalization for antibiotics to amputation of a toe or foot. For people with diabetes, careful, daily inspection of the feet is essential to overall health and the prevention of damaging foot problems.
- Inspect your feet every day.
- Look for puncture wounds, bruises, pressure areas, redness, warmth, blisters, ulcers, scratches, cuts, and nail problems.
- Get someone to help you, or use a mirror if you are unable to do it alone. Inspecting for skin breakdown is crucial.
- Look at and feel each foot for swelling. Swelling in one of the feet and not the other is an early sign that you may be experiencing early stages of Charcot (pronounced “sharko”) foot. This is a unique problem that can occur in people with diabetes. It can destroy the bones and joints.
- Examine the bottoms of your feet and toes. Check the six major locations on the bottom of each foot:
- The tip of the big toe
- The base of the little toes
- The base of the middle toes
- The heel
- The outside edge of the foot
- Across the ball of the foot
Choose and wear your shoes carefully. A poor fitting shoe can cause an ulcer and lead to an infection.
- Buy new shoes late in the day when your feet are larger. Buy shoes that are comfortable without a “breaking in” period.
- Check how your shoe fits in width, length, back, bottom of heel, and sole. Have your feet measured every time you buy new shoes. Your foot will change shape over the years and you may not be the same shoe size you were 5 years ago.
- Avoid pointed-toe styles and high heels. Try to get shoes made with leather upper material and deep toe boxes.
- Wear new shoes for only 2 hours or less at a time. Do not wear the same pair every day.
- Inspect the inside of each shoe before putting it on. Do not lace your shoes too tightly or loosely.
- Avoid long walks without taking a break, removing your shoes and socks and checking for signs of pressure (redness) or ulcers.