Diabetes is affecting more and more people each year. While the medical industry tries to figure out how to prevent the condition, people need to be aware of how they treat the condition, especially when it comes to footcare. Foot care is often overlooked as many people don’t think there is a correlation between foot health and their sugar levels. One major complication associated with diabetes is blood flow circulation which is a major reason why diabetics need to pay attention to their feet since the feet are far from the heart. Below are some risks diabetics need to be concerned with along with information on how to prevent complications.
Risk: Diabetic Neuropathy
As of 2000 at least 171 million people worldwide suffer from diabetes, or 2.8% of the population. In America about 25% of people with diabetes will develop foot problems related to the disease.
Diabetic foot conditions develop from a combination of causes including poor blood circulation and neuropathy. Diabetic Neuropathy damages the nerves and causes 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 and numbness of the foot. 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.
Risk: Poor Circulation
Another major risk involves poor circulation and compounds the problems with the neuropathy risk. Diabetes can often lead 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 legs and feet due to the distance from the heart. 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 person because poor circulation impairs the healing process and can lead to ulcers, infection, and other serious foot conditions.
Treatment and Prevention
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 very critical. When diabetics take the necessary preventative footcare measures, he or she will reduce the risk of serious foot conditions.
Footwear and orthotics play an important role in diabetic footcare. Orthotics designed with Plastazote foam, the #1 material for protecting the insensitive diabetic foot, are usually recommended. At the OrthoticShop we have several prefabricated orthotics that use plastazote covers such as the Lynco Conform Series. Additionally, any of our custom orthotics can be made with plastazote covers. Plastazote is a material designed to accommodate pressure “hot spots” by conforming to heat and pressure. By conforming to the foot, Plastazote top covers provide the comfort and protection needed for diabetic feet. Diabetic footwear should also provide the following protective benefits:
- High, wide toe box (high and wide space in the toe area)
- Removable insoles for fitting flexibility and the option to insert custom or premade orthotics if necessary.
- Rocker Soles designed to reduce pressure in the areas of the foot most susceptible to pain, most notably the ball-of-the-foot.
- Firm Heel Counters for support and stability.
If you are a diabetic, you should be particularly alert to any problems have with your feet. It is important for diabetics with neuropathy, tingling or numbness in the feet, to take necessary precautions to prevent injury and keep their feet healthy.
See our next Article on Diabetic Shoes for foot care tips.