Charcot's foot - One condition that can become a major problem for people suffering from severe diabetic neuropathy is "Charcot's foot". This condition occurs when a person suffers minor trauma to a joint or bone through normal wear and tear and it goes unnoticed. If a person is unaware of any pain because of diabetic neuropathy and takes no action, it will result in joint destruction and deformity as well as a collapse of the mid foot may occur, ultimately making walking difficult.
Foot ulcers - With diabetic neuropathy a small cut or injury has the potential to become infected and go unnoticed and if left untreated it can develop into an ulcer. Foot ulcers are extremely dangerous because if they are not treated immediately they will continue to spread deeper into the skin and even into bone, potentially becoming gangrenous. Should the infection reach into bone or gangrene develops, it may become necessary for part of the foot, the foot or even the leg to be amputated. Foot ulcers most commonly develop on the bottom of the big toe or on the ball of the foot but can develop on the side of the foot as a result of wearing poor fitting shoes. Inspect your feet daily for any signs of injury or infection to insure that foot ulcers do not even get a chance to begin.
Corns/Calluses - In most people corns or calluses are generally not harmful, however for someone with diabetes they are prone to occur more often. Calluses appear most often on the high pressure points of the foot and if left untrimmed they have the potential to turn into ulcers. It is best to let a physician trim calluses due to the potential of injury, and once trimmed keep them under control by using a pumice stone during a bath or shower, applying lotion afterwards. Never use ANY chemical agent to remove calluses!
Dry Skin/Blisters - Believe it or not, diabetes can affect the oil and sweat glands in your feet by damaging the nerves that control them. If this happens the skin on your feet can become very dry, crack and bleed opening the door for bacteria to enter, which of course can lead to infection. The same type of situation occurs in the case of blisters, only it is not dryness that splits open the skin, but excessive rubbing and pressure that can break the skin, exposing it to infection.
Diabetic neuropathy is the main reason people with diabetes fail to detect injury or know that something is wrong so it is very important that they inspect their feet and toes on a daily basis. A persons toes are the most susceptible to injury and infection, so closer attention should be given to them, particularly the bottom of the big toe and around the toenails. Some other things that can be done to prevent injury or infection and letting any problems from getting out of control are:
• Choose footwear carefully - Wear shoes that have been carefully fitted, are well ventilated and will not allow your foot to slip and rub excessively inside them . Also it is a good idea to avoid open toed footwear such as sandals and flip flops that leave your feet unprotected from injury. Never go barefoot!
• Nail care - Take care when trimming toe nails to avoid trimming too far and cutting into the skin, opening it up to infection.
• Wear diabetic socks - are socks that have been specially designed for diabetics. They are made to control moisture to reduce the risk of infection as well as to fit loosely up top to allow better circulation. Diabetic socks are also made without seams of a material that is not prone to wrinkles to reduce pressure and the chance of blisters.
• Keep your feet, socks/footwear clean - Another step you can take is to keep your feet/shoes and socks clean. It is pretty much common knowledge that the cleaner you and your clothing are the less prone you are to having germs and bacteria living on your skin or in the fabrics you wear. However particular effort should be taken to keep your shoes and socks clean because the warm moist environment created in your shoe as you wear them is a perfect breeding ground for bacteria. Change your socks at least once a day and if you are able to, try to have several pairs of shoes so you can rotate between them during the week. This will decrease the amount of time you spend in any one pair, reducing the chances of bacteria from having the time to establish "strongholds" in the fabric.
• See a Podiatrist - Visit a podiatrist at least four times a year to have your feet professionally inspected and examined. But if you feel that something may be wrong or should you discover an injury or infection that is not healing see your podiatrist immediately.
1. Smoking decreases the amount of oxygen that reaches the cells of the body (including nerve cells).
2. Constricts and damages blood vessels, impeding blood flow and slowing the healing process.
3. Increases cholesterol levels in the blood stream that can build on blood vessel walls causing blockages (plaque).
4. Increases blood glucose levels making it more difficult to keep diabetes under control (excess glucose can damage blood vessels).
5. Smoking increases blood pressure and significantly increases the risk of foot problems and amputation.
• Follow the - Five Star Plan of Action for Diabetics