November 2, 2023

Did you know that diabetes affects nearly 30 million people in the United States? Diabetes impacts the body’s ability to make insulin or use it as well as it should. The result is too much blood sugar remains in the blood. High blood sugar can damage many parts of the body including the feet.

James Nack DPM

Foot and Ankle (Podiatry)

One of the complications of diabetes is peripheral neuropathy which causes damage to the nerves that travel to the arms, legs and feet. Neuropathy, better known as nerve damage, is quite common. The American Diabetes Association reports that 60 to 70 percent of people with diabetes will develop neuropathy.

Podiatrists and the American Podiatric Medical Association are working to teach people who have diabetes to take extra care of their feet. Here’s how.

  • If you have diabetes, see a podiatrist every year. If you have foot neuropathy, it’s best to visit a podiatrist more frequently.
  • If you have symptoms of nerve damage in your feet, see a podiatrist who can diagnose neuropathy. Neuropathy causes numbness, burning, tingling or shooting or stabbing pain in the foot and toes. You may notice loss of balance or muscle weakness in the feet.

The podiatrist will examine your feet, ask about your symptoms and review your health history. If you are diagnosed with nerve damage in the feet, the podiatrist will teach you how to care for your feet at home and work.

  • Do a daily foot check. With a loss of feeling in the feet, you may not feel an injury, wound or infection. If you have trouble checking your feet, ask a family member or friend to help you. A mirror can also be useful.
  • Diabetes puts people at risk for sores or foot ulcers. In addition to lack of feeling, poor blood flow, friction or pressure on the foot, and progression of the condition can cause ulcers. It’s crucial to catch the sores early and begin treatment. If you notice a foot ulcer, often found on the bottom of the foot, visit a podiatrist.
  • Wear properly fitted shoes or slippers, even when at home. Buy shoes at the end of the day when feet are largest. Do not walk barefoot. Wearing shoes or slippers help protect your feet from injury.  
  • Wear podiatrist-approved products. When diagnosed with foot neuropathy, your podiatrist may recommend non-binding socks or other products. The American Podiatric Medical Association gives a Seal of Acceptance and Seal of Approval to products that promote good foot health. Use the website to look up a product before buying.  
  • Keep the blood flowing in your feet. Put your feet up when you are sitting. Wiggle your toes for a few minutes, a few times a day.
  • To help prevent serious complications, manage diabetes and control blood sugar levels as best you can. Seek education and treatment from your primary care provider and diabetes care team. Managing diabetes often takes a multi-faceted approach that includes lifestyle changes in diet and physical activity, weight management, medications and continuous glucose monitoring.

That’s why the Mankato Clinic has a Diabetes Care Center. Providers who specialize in diabetes work with patients to make a realistic treatment plan and coordinate care with other specialists.

You can lead a healthy life with diabetes. Remember, you don’t have to walk this path alone.