If you have diabetes, having too much glucose (aka sugar) in your blood for a long time can cause some serious complications, including foot ulcers/foot problems.
A diabetic foot is a long-term (or "chronic") complication which affects directly from Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) and/or sensory neuropathy related to diabetes.
High or unstable blood sugar levels, the hallmark of diabetes, can cause the arteries to change, which can choke off or damage nerves. This is known as diabetic neuropathy, and it initially feels like a tingling or pins-and-needles sensation, then burning, and finally numbness and lack of feeling in the foot.
Diabetic foot ulcers are usually the result of minor trauma, such as a blister or callus. They often appear under bony pressure areas, such as the heel or bottom of the foot. Normally, a person who develops one of these on their foot would feel pain and walk differently or wear different shoes to avoid putting additional pressure or friction on it. But if you have diabetic neuropathy, you won’t feel that pain. You’ll keep wearing the same shoes and walking on it just as you always do, leading it to turn into a more serious wound.
Unfortunately, we often don’t see people with diabetic foot ulcers until the wound is advanced and an infection has begun to set in. They may not have felt the pain of the wound, but the infection is now making them sick, causing fever, chills and swelling or redness in the leg.
You may be able to avoid getting to this point by practicing some simple foot care techniques and seeing your doctor as soon as a problem develops.
Vascular assessment is important part for ulcer healing process.
Along with treating diabetic foot conditions, there are other things we can do to prevent further problems. If you’ve had foot or vascular surgery to correct a problem, we’ll monitor you over the months and years after.
If we determine at some point down the road that there’s a new area of pressure developing, we may be able to correct it before it becomes a problem. Surgical examples include tendon lengthening or osteotomy, in which we cut or reshape a bone to relieve pressure.
We also may be able to avoid surgery with a non-invasive procedure. If, for example, you have hammertoe, in which the toe bends downward causing repeated ulcers on the tip of the toe, we could perform a percutaneous needle tenotomy. In this procedure, we use a needle to release part of the tendon from the bone.
Diabetes care doesn’t stop at controlling blood sugar. If you or a loved one has diabetes, get in the habit of practicing proper foot care, scheduling regular check-ups, and seeking early treatment for problems to prevent serious diabetic foot complications, including amputation.