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People with diabetes are at a risk of developing many different diabetic foot problems, some of them leading to serious diabetic foot infections. Neuropathy often causes diabetic foot problems, which basically means complications due to nerve damage. This damage is more likely if you’ve had diabetes for a long time, your blood glucose levels have been too high for long, you smoke or you’re inactive. Diabetics need to take very good care of their feet every day, and have to be alert as well. Being alert will mean you will spot something soon and can get it diagnosed promptly. Let’s understand more about diabetic foot problems.

DIABETIC FOOT SYMPTOMS

Diabetic foot complications usually present with either neuropathic problems or a combination of neuropathy and blood flow compromise.
Neuropathic complications lead to symptoms such as

  • Numbness
  • Tingling or burning sensation
  • High sensitivity to touch, sharp pains or cramps
  • Muscle weakness
  • Loss of reflexes particularly the ankle reflex
  • Trouble with balance and coordination

Apart from these, your foot problems may involve peripheral vascular disease. In that case, you may experience:

  • On and off leg pain, when walking or exercising, that fades off after resting
  • Numbness, tingling, or coldness in the lower legs or feet
  • Ulcers or infections that heal slowly

CAUSES OF DIABETIC FOOT ULCERS

Diabetics are highly susceptible to foot problems compared to the general population and about 15% of them can develop foot ulcers at some point in their life. Nearly 14% of these ulcers result in amputation. In India, diabetic foot problems are responsible for 24% of hospitalizations and 35% of total number of days spent in the hospital.
Neuropathy and peripheral vascular disease are the major diabetic foot causes. Over 60% of the diabetic foot ulcers result from neuropathy and up to 50% from peripheral vascular disease, respectively.
Diabetic foot causes are also due to:

  • Easy susceptibility to infections due to poor immune response
  • Biomechanical changes
  • Microvascular disease
  • Inappropriate weight bearing activity
  • Musculoskeletal problems

DIABETIC FOOT CARE/MANAGEMENT

Proper diabetic foot care helps prevent diabetic foot complications, and these are some things you should bear in mind:

  • Keep your sugar levels under control
  • Annually examine your feet thoroughly, including getting checked for sense of feeling and the pulse in your feet
  • Examine your feet carefully daily for any cuts or other abnormalities, wash them and keep them clean
  • Immediately get in touch with your doctor if you observe any loss of sense, callus, ingrown nails, corns
  • Avoid contact with very hot or cold temperatures
  • Use comfortable shoes that do not put pressure on your toes and well fitted socks daily
  • Stay physically active to keep blood flowing to your feet