Diabetic Foot Health Info

Important Diabetic Update

Do you or someone you know have diabetes? Almost all people with diabetes will have foot problems during their lifetime.  If you are a diabetic, you may be at risk of developing serious foot infections and ulcerations that often lead to amputation.  In the United States the # 1 reason for a diabetic to be hospitalized is a foot problem.  The # 1 reason for amputation in the United States is diabetic foot problems (86,000 diabetic amputations in 1996).  80% of these life-altering amputations could have been prevented.

Individuals with diabetes may present with the same foot problems as anyone else, but they often have a number of special ones.  Diabetic foot problems result from 2 specific causes, nerve damage (Peripheral Neuropathy) and the loss of circulation (Angiopathy).

Nerve Damage
Diabetics can develop neuropathy due to blood sugar (which is abnormally high) entering the nerve tissue and damaging the nerve.  At first their feet may be hypersensitive (an increase in sensation), where even the slightest pressure is painful.  Later hyposensitivity (a decrease or lack of sensation) may develop.  Although this numbness may not be painful, it is a very dangerous situation for the diabetic individual.  Even the slightest foot injury or callus formation can be disastrous.  The risks of developing ulcers and infections are significantly increased.  Although the damage to the nerve is permanent, the progression of the condition can be stabilized by maintaining normal blood sugar levels.  Diabetics should adhere to a special diet and monitor insulin therapy regularly.  Alcohol consumption should be kept to a minimum as ethanol, a component of alcoholic beverages, is toxic to nerve tissue.

Loss of Circulation
Poor circulation inhibits the body's ability to allow adequate blood flow to vital body parts.  Blood carries the necessary oxygen and nutrients necessary to aid in the body's healing processes as well as keeping those body parts active and healthy.  Poor circulation to the feet and legs prolongs the healing of cuts and sores, greatly increasing the risks for diabetics to contract gangrene and /or suffer the loss of a limb.

Due to above neurological and circulatory foot complications, the skin does not respond well to the increased stress associated with callus formation, often forming a skin ulcer.  These ulcers can progress to serious limb and even life threatening situations.  Calluses are the result of abnormal forces or friction on the skin.  This increased pressure, leading to callus formation and pain is due to abnormal foot function during walking and running.  The type of callus and symptoms depends on the type of abnormal function.  This explains why different calluses can have different symptoms, even on the same person.  Neuropathy may magnify symptoms related to walking that normally could be tolerated.  No matter what the type of pain, it is the abnormal walk that causes this pain and the reason that walking closer to your ideal with The Active Foot Store custom orthotics will help.

Helpful Diabetic Foot Care Tips

  • Examine your feet Daily - especially between toes and the bottoms of feet
    Contact your Foot Specialist immediately if any of the below mentioned are present.
         -  Swelling, Redness, and Blisters
         -  Cuts, Scrapes, and Bleeding
         -  Toenail Problems, including proper length and fungus
         -  Pus or drainage between toes or from toenails
  • Always seek treatment as soon as you detect a foot problem.
  • Always keep scheduled appointments with your foot specialist – prevention is vital.
  • Always tell your foot specialist about any abnormal or sensitive foot sensations or pain.
  • Always keep feet clean and dry.  Always dry between your toes.
  • Always use lotion on dry skin areas.  The Active Foot Store carries special lotions for diabetics
  • Never Walk Barefoot - cuts, blisters and splinters can easily develop into infectious ulcers
  • Never Wear Tight Shoes or Tight Socks - pressure may cause blisters or swelling The Active Foot Store carries special diabetic socks
  • Never Use Heat or Heating Pad - a patient with neuropathy can be seriously burned
  • Never Soak Feet in Hot Water - lukewarm water is safest
  • Never Smoke - smoking reduces blood circulation to the feet
  • Never Use Chemicals or corn/callus pads on corns and calluses - causes serious harm to skin
  • Never Use Sharp Instruments to Trim Nails or Calluses - cuts can lead to infection
  • Never Cut Toenails Into the Corners - cutting into the corners can cause ingrown toenails
  • Examine Shoes before Wearing - Check for:
         -  Always wear the proper shoes.  The Active Foot Store can supply you with special shoes for diabetics
         -  Foreign objects that can pierce the skin
         -  Uneven seams or cracks that may rub and cause skin irritations
         -  Proper sizing - shoes should never fit tightly, especially the toe box
         -  Redness or swelling upon wearing new shoes - discontinue wear

One of the most common complications of diabetes is a loss of  feeling, or sensation in the feet. This lack of feeling puts people with diabetes at risk for skin breakdown, ulceration and infection.  Therapeutic shoes protect and support the feet, helping to alleviate the problems that may arise from improper footwear. The Active Foot Store can supply and fit you with special shoes.  Proper fitting shoes are so important that Medicare and some private insurances will even buy a diabetic a pair.  To see if you qualify, go to our section on Diabetic Shoes or ask one of the sales associates for information.

It is vital that all diabetic patients be committed to taking care of  their feet properly.  Diabetics are always at risk for developing foot ulcers and infections.  Common ailments, such as corns, calluses and ingrown toenails can become   very serious and threatening conditions for a diabetic.  Hospitalization is a frequent occurrence and in some cases, amputation of the foot or leg is required.  The Active Foot Store products can provide tremendous relief of pain associated with diabetes, as well as protect the foot.  We provide special skin creams, socks, orthotics(custom arch supports) and shoes for the diabetic individual.

Download or Print this Fact Sheet

Legal statement:The information provided in this website is not intended to be a substitute for medical attention, diagnosis or treatment.  The material is provided for information purposes alone. Visitors should not exclusively rely on answers provided here. Specific questions should be directed to your own health care provider.  The Active Foot Store (Active Feet, Inc.) makes no claims, expressed or implied as to the accuracy and timeliness of any advice, services, or other information referenced in these documents.  Additionally, The Active Foot Store (Active Feet, Inc.) is not obligated to follow-up or contact visitors to this site, nor is it liable in any manner for the decisions of visitors whose actions are based on information here.