Diabetic Foot Health

Diabetic Foot Heath is extremely important to those that suffer from Diabetes. There are several types of lower extremity complications from Diabetes affecting 60 – 70% of sufferers. The following are some of these complications: Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy – nerve damage creating the inability to feel the feet or causing burning pain. Diabetic Foot Ulcers: lesions that develop on the bottom of the foot. Diabetic Foot Infections: Severe diabetic foot ulcers which lead to hospitalization, sepsis, and have a 50% limb loss rate.

What causes Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy?

Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy is primarily caused by poorly managed diabetes. However, nerve damage can also occur before a proper diabetes diagnosis occurs, then progressively worsen over time.

What causes a Diabetic Ulcer?

Loss of blood flow and nerve damage from Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy create an inabilty to feel the feet. When the feet encounter friction or abrasion they develop a sore that can not heal itself without proper treatment. WIthout assistance, there is no ability to heal the sore and fight the eventual infection.

What causes Diabetic Foot Infections?

A Diabetic Foot Infection is the consequence of not treating a Diabetic Ulcer quickly and effectively. With Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy creating a loss of blood flow and feeling in the feet, it is extremely difficult to fight infection. These infections can be catastrophic and can lead to amputation, sepsis (serious infection) and even death.

How do I know if I have Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy?

What are the symptoms of Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy?

The most common symptoms of Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy include:

  • Tingling or burning sensations in your foot or toes
  • Loss of feeling in your foot or toes
  • Numbness and / or pain
  • Weak muscles

How is Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy diagnosed?

Your foot professional will perform a physical examination checking sensation and reflexes in the extremities as well as checking blood work to look for potential metabolic causes of peripheral neuropathy. A nerve conduction study will also be performed to test the function of the nerves. Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy can share symptoms with issues such as thyroid problems, vitamin b12 deficiencies, nerve entrapments, lupus, kidney failure, nutritional deficiencies and alcoholism (as these are other potential causes of non-diabetic peripheral neuropathy).

How do I know if I have Diabetic Foot Ulcers?

What are the symptoms of Diabetic Foot Ulcers?

Symptoms of Diabetic Foot Ulcers include:

  • Loss of feeling in the foot and / or leg
  • Skin loss
  • Blisters
  • Impaired healing of wounds
  • Ulcers and lesions on the bottom of the foot

How are Diabetic Ulcers diagnosed?

Diabetic Ulcers are commonly diagnosed by podiatrist and orthopedic surgeons. These ulcers can be completely painless and consequently are frequently left untreated eventually creating a Diabetic Foot Infection. In severe cases partial or complete gangrene can occur leading to limb loss.

How do I know if I have a Diabetic Foot Infection?

What are the symptoms of a Diabetic Foot Infection?

Untreated Diabetic Ulcer(s) create bacterial infection(s) of the skin, connective tissues, muscles, and bones.

The appearance of:

  • Inflammed, swollen, red skin
  • Visible bone underneath the sore
  • Non-healing ulcer after weeks of proper treatment
  • Deep tissue abscess
  • Gangrene

How is a Diabetic Foot Infection diagnosed?

There are several degrees of severity involving a Diabetic Foot Infection:

Mild: Superficial infection of the skin and a very small infection of the tissue surrounding the Diabetic Ulcer. There are no other local complications or illness.

Moderate: Infection has spread beneath the skin and into the surrounding tissue. The infection has created a deep tissue abscess or gangrene and spread into the muscle, tendon, joint, or bone.

Severe: The infection has spread into the metabolic system causing fever, chills, low blood pressure, confusion, vomiting, severe high blood sugar, rapid heart rate, elevated white blood cell count, and increased blood acidity.

What can I do from home for Diabetic Foot Health?

Diabetic Foot Health is extremely important to diabetes sufferers. First and foremost, the ability to properly regulate blood glucose levels will assist in the prevention of diabetes related health issues. Proper shoe wear, orthotics, moisturization, and foot exams on a regular basis can drastically reduce any complications that may arise from diabetes.

What can I do to prevent Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy?

Since Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy is created through improper blood glucose levels, proper regulation of diabetes is the only way to prevent Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy.

What can I do to prevent Diabetic Foot Ulcers?

Prevention of Diabetic Foot Ulcers include:

  • Having your feet regularly examined by a doctor as well as checking your own feet on a daily basis
  • Washing, drying, and moisturizing regularly
  • Always wearing socks with shoes
  • Do not walk barefoot
  • Wearing specialty shoes

What can I do to prevent a Diabetic Foot Infection?

Once Diabetic Foot Ulcers are detected, the only way to prevent a Diabetic Foot Infection is through proper medical care. Seeing your foot professional is extremely important in the prevention of a Diabetic Foot Infection. If a Diabetic Foot Infection can not be prevented, there is a high rate of both limb loss and mortality.

What treatments can I do from home for Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy?

Proper treatment of Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy begins with proper blood glucose levels.

What treatments can I do from home for Diabetic Foot Ulcers?

Caring for the infection includes:
  • Administration of necessary antibiotics
  • Debridement – the removal of dead, damaged, or infected tissue
  • Frequent dressing changes
  • Relieving the pressure of the ulcerated part through elevation
  • Optimal diabetes management

However, it is extremely important to see your foot professional at the first sign of a Diabetic Foot Ulcer to keep the ulcer from becoming a deadly Diabetic Foot Infection.

What treatments can I do from home for a Diabetic Foot Infection?

Diabetic Foot Infections are extremely dangerous and can not be treated from home. Without a multi disciplinary approach (seeing a Podiatrist, personal physician, etc.) a Diabetic Foot Infection has a higher mortality rate than many cancers.

When should I see a doctor for Diabetic Foot Health Related Problems?

You should see a doctor immediately if you have any possible signs of infection. If you can’t feel your feet, or have a constant tingling feeling you need to see a foot specialist as soon as possible. Diabetic Foot Ulcers are very serious and should be treated right away. Even if there are no signs of infection, diabetes makes any wound on the foot a serious risk for infection, amputation, and death.

What treatments are available for Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy?

Proper blood sugar levels stop nerve damage from becoming worse, electrical stimulation can assist in nerve recovery, and medications can be prescribed to assist with pain.

What treatments are available for Diabetic Foot Ulcers?

Debridement (removal) of the foot ulcer, the surrounding tissue, and foreign bodies. Proper debridement is necessary to decrease the risk of further infection and the the development of a Diabetic Foot Infection. If any infection remains it can impede the healing process.

Proper wound care: the wound should be cleaned, irrigated with a saline solution / cleanser, and clean dressing should be applied continually. Dressings prevent the tissue from drying out, absorb the excess fuilds, and protect the wound from contamination.

What treatments are available for a Diabetic Foot Infection?

Depending on the severity of the infection, there are several options for the treatment of a Diabetic Foot Infection

Mild to Moderate: Proper wound care, antibiotics, and a culture of the infection will be taken.

Severe: Hospitalization to restore metabolic status, antibiotics, surgery, oxygen, and possible amputation.