Diabetes-Related Foot Problems

What are diabetes-related foot problems?

The feet are especially susceptible to problems related to diabetes, a condition in which the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood remains too high for too long. High levels of glucose damage the capillaries (small blood vessels), causing them to weaken, narrow and harden, which restricts blood flow, particularly to the feet because they're the furthest from the heart. This may result in neuropathy, or nerve damage, and you may have tingling sensations in your toes and feet, or you may lose feeling in your feet altogether.

This process is gradual but often goes hand in hand with other diabetes-related foot problems, such as infections caused by foot ulcers, corns and ingrown toenails. Over time, because your feet are unable to sense pain, a simple blister or sore may turn into an infection without you being aware of it. In some cases, people with diabetes-related foot infections may need to have toes, feet or legs amputated because the infection spreads quickly before they realize there's a problem.

Symptoms of foot problems related to diabetes

Early warning signs of neuropathy in your feet may include:

  • Changes in the way your feet look (swelling on bottom, for example)
  • Cold feet (due to poor circulation)
  • Dry, itchy skin
  • Foot sores that won't heal or take a long time to heal
  • Tingling sensations in your toes, feet or legs
  • Weakness in your foot or ankle

Any one or combination of these symptoms does not necessarily mean your foot problems are related to diabetes. If you are diabetic, however, it's important to pay close attention to any symptoms involving to your feet since you are at greater risk for foot infections and associated problems.

Diabetes-related foot problems treatment options

Your doctor can work with you on ways to prevent diabetes-related foot problems from happening, such as getting regular foot examinations, wearing special shoes that don't rub or restrict your toes, and staying active to help your body circulate blood to the feet.

Depending on the nature of your foot problems, treatment may include some combination of medication, use of special shoes or inserts, or in some cases, surgical procedures.

Main Line Health can provide you with the skills, information and treatment you need to manage your diabetes and help you live an active, healthy life.





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