Diabetes is a serious disease that can develop from lack of insulin production in the body or due to the inability of the body’s insulin to perform its normal everyday functions. Insulin is a substance produced by the pancreas gland that helps process the food we eat and turn it into energy. Diabetes affects approximately 16 million Americans and is classified into 2 different types: Type 1 and Type 2. Type 1 is usually associated with juvenile diabetes and is often linked to heredity. Type 2, commonly referred to as adult onset diabetes, is characterized by elevated blood sugars, often in people who are overweight or have not attended to their diet properly. Many complications can be associated with diabetes. Diabetes disrupts the vascular system, affecting many areas of the body such as the eyes, kidneys, legs, and feet. People with diabetes should pay special attention to their feet.
Of the sixteen million Americans with diabetes, 25% will develop foot problems related to the disease. Diabetic foot conditions develop from a combination of causes including poor circulation and neuropathy. Diabetic Neuropathy can cause insensitivity or a loss of ability to feel pain, heat, and cold. Diabetics suffering from neuropathy can develop minor cuts, scrapes, blisters, or pressure sores that they may not be aware of due to the insensitivity. If these minor injuries are left untreated, complications may result and lead to ulceration and possibly even amputation. Neuropathy can also cause deformities such as bunions, hammer toes, and Charcot feet. It is very important for diabetics to take the necessary precautions to prevent all foot related injuries. Due to the consequences of neuropathy, daily observation of the feet is critical. When a diabetic patient takes the necessary preventative foot care measures, he or she reduces the risks of serious foot conditions.
Diabetes often leads to peripheral vascular disease that inhibits a person’s blood circulation. With this condition, there is a narrowing of the arteries that frequently leads to significantly decreased circulation in the lower part of the legs and the feet. Poor circulation contributes to diabetic foot problems by reducing the amount of oxygen and nutrition supplied to the skin and other tissue, causing injuries to heal poorly. Poor circulation can also lead to swelling and dryness of the foot. Preventing foot complications is more critical for the diabetic patient because poor circulation impairs the healing process and can lead to ulcers, infection, and other serious foot conditions.
Footwear and orthotics play an important role in diabetic foot care. Orthotics designed with Plastazote or P-Cell foam, the best materials for protecting the insensitive diabetic foot, are usually recommended. Plastazote is a material designed to accommodate pressure “hot spots” by conforming to heat and pressure. P-Cell functions the same but is designed for heavier patients. By customizing to the foot, Plastazote and P-Cell provide the comfort and protection needed in diabetic foot care. Footwear constructed with Plastazote is also recommended frequently for the diabetic patient. Diabetic footwear should also provide the following protective benefits:
If you are a diabetic, you should be particularly alert to any problems you may be having with your feet. It is very important for diabetics with neuropathy to take necessary precautions to prevent injury and keep their feet healthy. If you have diabetes and are experiencing a foot problem, immediately consult your foot doctor.
Proper foot care is especially critical for diabetics because they are prone to foot problems such as:
Simple daily foot care can prevent serious problems. According to the National Institute of Health, the following simple everyday steps will help prevent serious complications from diabetes:
If the problem persists, consult your foot doctor.