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Diabetes and Feet

Diabetes can cause a variety of problems with the feet and ankles, but many of these can be prevented or treated.

The most important way to help your feet if you have Diabete is to keep your Diabetes under control.

Watch your diet, take prescribed medications, exercise and keep your blood sugar in a range your Primary Care Physician finds acceptable for you.

Daily foot care is extremely important for people with diabetes who are at risk for nerve damage and poor blood flow to the feet.

Diabetes accounts for half of the 67,000 foot amputations performed in the US every year. Preventive foot care could reduce this risk by up to 85%.

Patients should make a daily inspection and watch for changes in color or texture, odor, and firm or hardened areas, which may indicate infection and potential ulcers. When washing the feet, the water should be warm (not hot), and the feet and areas between the toes should be thoroughly dried afterward.

Moisturizers should be applied, but not between the toes. Corns and calluses should be gently pumiced and toenails trimmed short and the edges filed to avoid cutting adjacent toes.

Patients should not use medicated pads or try to shave the corns or calluses themselves. People with diabetes should avoid high heels, sandals, thongs, and going barefoot. Shoes should be changed often (three times a day if possible). Tight stockings or any clothing that constricts the legs and feet should not be worn. A new hand-held device that uses a nylon fiber brush may enable the physician to identify nerve damage that can lead to ulcers by pressing it against several points on the foot and eliciting the patient's response to the pressure.

A person with diabetes should check with a specialist in foot care for any problems. Hospitalization and intravenous antibiotics for up to 28 days may be needed for severe foot ulcers in diabetic patients. A number of treatments are now available that stimulate new cell growth and help heal skin ulcers or use cultures of human skin cells.

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Diabetes and Feet