Practical, protective foot health steps for people with diabetes
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[December 19, 2012]
(BPT) -- Healthy feet are essential for
overall good health, no matter your age, fitness level or physical
challenges. For people with diabetes, however, taking care of their
feet is especially vital. More than 60 percent of all non-traumatic
lower-limb amputations worldwide are related to complications from
the disease, according to the American Diabetes Association.
A recent study by the American Podiatric Medical Association
indicates Hispanics with diabetes are particularly in danger since
more than 90 percent of those with the disease or at risk for it
have never seen a podiatrist as part of their health care.
"Regardless of ethnicity, foot ulcers and infections are the leading
cause of hospitalization among people with diabetes, but most of
those problems are largely preventable," says Dr. Joseph Caporusso,
a podiatrist and president of the APMA. "It's important for those
with the disease to 'knock their socks off' and receive regular foot
exams by today's podiatrists."
While ulcers -- open sores on the foot -- are the most common
diabetes-related foot problem, several others are also serious and
prevalent, including neuropathy, skin changes, calluses, poor
circulation and infection. The nerve damage that diabetes causes may
mean a person with an ulcer or injury may be unaware of it until it
becomes infected. Infection can lead to partial or full amputation
of the foot or lower leg.
The good news is, regular care from a podiatrist can help reduce
amputation rates between 45 and 85 percent, the APMA says.
People with diabetes need to inspect their feet daily and be
vigilant for warning signs of ulcers, including irritation, redness,
cracked or dry skin (especially around the heels), or drainage on
Although ulcers can occur anywhere on the foot or ankle, they are
typically found on pressure points on the foot, like the ball of the
foot or bottom of the big toe. If you discover an ulcer or have any
symptoms, see a podiatrist immediately. In many cases, the foot can
be saved with early treatment.
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In addition to examining your feet every day, and keeping your
blood glucose in your target range, make sure to follow these foot
diabetes and the risks with your family. Diabetes can be
hereditary, so talk to your family members about monitoring
blood sugar and foot health.
Never go barefoot.
Always protect your feet with the proper footwear and make sure
both socks and shoes are comfortable and fit well.
straight across, and never cut the cuticles. Seek immediate
treatment for ingrown toenails, as they can lead to serious
Keep your feet
elevated while sitting.
Wiggle toes and move your feet and
ankles up and down for five-minute sessions throughout the day.
"Successfully managing diabetes is a team effort, and today's
podiatrist is an integral player on that team," Caporusso says.
To find a podiatrist, or to learn more about foot health and
care, visit www.apma.org.