In people with diabetes foot complications from neuropathy (nerve damage) can appear in the form of ulcers, sores, or open cuts.
Other foot issues, like calluses, are also common. While calluses may not seem worrisome, if left untrimmed they can turn into ulcers or open sores. Again, because of nerve damage, diabetics may not immediately notice such problems. Over time, diabetics with neuropathy may also experience changes in the shape of their feet, such as buckled digits or “hammer” toes, bunions, or other deformities that may require specialized footwear.
Causes of Diabetes-Related Foot Problems
Because the prolonged elevation of sugar levels in diabetics often causes peripheral neuropathy, or numbness and loss of sensation due to nerve damage, diabetics risk repeated foot injury. Diabetics simply cannot feel pain as intensely as someone without damage to his or her nerves.
Many diabetics are unaware of the serious dangers of neuropathy in the feet. Essentially, if a wound is not felt right away, it can go unchecked, and an infection can become so serious that amputation becomes necessary.
People with diabetes can also suffer from poor blood circulation in their lower extremities, which slows the healing process when a cut or wound is present. Any wound that is slow to heal further increases the risk of infection since bacteria can easily enter open sores and cuts.
Accord to a 2011 article in Diabetic Medicine, “a number of surveys and studies have reported that 23 to 63 percent [of diabetic patients] check their feet rarely or not at all.” Other research suggested that physicians only routinely examine patients’ feet that have had past wounds.
This lack of awareness may be greater for patients in the early stages of nerve damage because they are also unaware of the risks associated with it. Therefore, diabetics need to be proactive. Ask questions. Work with your doctor to develop guidelines for foot care to help prevent the possibility of complications before they occur.
Prevention: How to Avoid Foot Problems
Research suggests that foot care is not a priority for most diabetics, which is likely due to a lack of information or understanding of the