An estimated 35 million people in the United States have diabetes. If you’re one of them, you’re at risk for several grave conditions that can affect your eyes, brain, nerves, heart, and feet.
In McKinney, Texas, at Next Step Orthopedics, board-certified orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Dominique Nickson, diagnoses and cares for diabetic foot problems, which can be severe and possibly life-threatening. Here he outlines some of the common foot conditions that arise when you have chronically elevated blood sugar and reduced blood flow due to diabetes.
A telltale sign that your blood sugar is not stabilized is the breakdown of skin on your feet, typically under your big toe or near the ball of your foot. Over time, the eroding skin forms an oozy, infected ulcer. The ulcer develops if you have poor circulation, nerve damage, or an open wound.
Fungal nail infections
People with diabetes are especially prone to yellow, crackly, infected toenails. While it may seem like a cosmetic concern, it can lead to a bacterial infection, which can turn deadly if you have diabetes and don’t treat it early.
For most people, an ingrown toenail is a painful problem that resolves with careful hygiene, but if you have diabetes, it requires special care and supervision. If not taken care of quickly, an ingrown toenail can lead to a gangrenous infection and possible amputation.
Calluses seem to develop quickly for people with diabetes. While they aren’t usually harmful, they can evolve into an ulcer and become dangerous. We don’t recommend that you file or cut your calluses yourself to prevent the possibility of making an open wound.
How to prevent diabetic foot problems
The best way to prevent foot problems that are aggravated by diabetes is to:
- Check your feet daily for problems
- Wash and thoroughly dry your feet each day
- Trim your toenail straight across rather than in a semicircle
- Optimize your blood flow with exercise
- Wear proper shoes
Of course, the most important thing you can do to fend off diabetic foot problems is to keep your blood sugar stable.
Should you develop a problem and need compassionate care, our team has years of experience successfully treating foot problems associated with diabetes. We’re ready to help you. Dr. Nickson writes a custom plan for you, which may include physical therapy, medication, medicated foot dressings, and possibly surgery.