Diabetes is a chronic disease that afflicts about 16 million people in the U.S. About 15 percent of diabetics will develop an ulceration on a foot during their lifetimes, and 20 percent of these ulcerations will lead to amputations. The annual incidence of amputations with diabetes Is 54,000, according to the American Diabetes Association. Diabetes can contribute to foot problems in two ways, it can cause decreased feeling In the feet, so that injuries such as cuts and scrapes may go unnoticed, and/or it can cause decreased circulation to the feet, resulting in a reduced blood supply that may be insufficient to fight infection and heal wounds. The risks of developing foot problems can be greatly reduced if you follow the simple principles of foot care, exercise, healthy nutrition, monitoring of the blood sugar, and seeing your physician on a regular basis.
Take good care of your feet
Wash your feet every day. Use warm (not hot) water, and mild soap. Do not put your feet in the water without testing it first with your hand, elbow, or a thermometer. Pat your feet dry with a soft towel, making sure to dry between the toes. Do not rub the skin too vigorously. If your skin is dry, or shows evidence of cracking, use a moisturizing cream as prescribed by your doctor. Never put the cream between your toes. Foot powder, used sparingly, can help if you have a problem with excessive perspiration. Change stockings daily. Do not wear stockings that have been mended or have seams because these can injure or irritate the skin. Never try to cut calluses or corns with a razor blade, or any sharp Instrument. Do not use garters or elastics to hold up stockings. Do not smoke.
Shoes that fit poorly can cause irritation and injury. Shoes should have enough room for the toes to wiggle freely and fit snugly, but not tightly. Make sure there is plenty of room for your foes. Avoid shoes made of vinyl or plastic. Avoid high heeled shoes. Never wear shoes without socks. Leather shoes allow your feet to breathe the best. New shoes should be broken in gradually. You should Inspect the inside of your shoes daily for torn linings or foreign objects. Remember, diabetic patients sometimes have decreased sensation and can be unaware of something inside the shoe. Walking or athletic shoes may be helpful for some diabetic patients. If you have foot deformities, you may need special therapeutic shoes.
Warning signs of diabetic foot problems
Take the diabetic risk test to evaluate your risk!! Notify your physician immediately if you notice any of the following conditions:
Color changes of the skin;
Swelling of the foot or ankle;
Open sores, with or without drainage;
Sores that are slow to heal;
Ingrown and fungal-infected toenails;
Dry fissures (cracks) in the skin;
Elevation of skin temperature;
Pain in the legs, resting or walking;
Corns or calluses; and/or
Injuries to the foot or ankle.
Galluzzo Foot & Ankle Clinic is at 3427 N. Rockton Ave., Rockford. Hours are 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Monday through Friday and Saturday by appointment. For more information or to make an appointment, call 633-3050 in Rockford; 847-741-3338 in Hoffman Estates; and 312-944-2929 in Chicago. Visit www.footdoc-il.com.