Diabetes and Your Feet:

Tips for diabetic foot care from orthopaedic foot and ankle MDs

It's American Diabetes Month, and if you're among the 25 million Americans who have diabetes, you may know that foot care is extremely important. Nervous system impairment, also called neuropathy, is a major complication of diabetes that can cause you to lose feeling in your feet. This means you may not know right away if you have hurt yourself, which could lead to infection.

"Diabetes changes your relationship with your feet," says F. Ray Nickel, MD, an orthopaedic foot and ankle specialist in Ventura, Calif. "We often ignore minor foot problems, but if you continue in this pattern after a diabetes diagnosis, the result can be problems that end up needing drastic treatment."

Since minor injuries can quickly become major problems for diabetics, orthopaedic foot and ankle MDs have put together tips for diabetic foot care. These tips include some commonsense approaches, such as inspecting your feet daily for blisters, scratches, cuts and nail problems. Other basics include: 

-Trim toe nails straight across. Cutting nails at the corners can lead to ingrown toe nails and infection.

-Don't put your feet on radiators or in front of the fireplace.

-Don't smoke. Smoking decreases the blood supply to the feet, which can delay wound healing.

"The good news is that if you educate yourself to know what to look for and what to do about it, and discipline yourself to examine your feet regularly, you can minimize the chance that small problems will become big problems and maintain an active lifestyle," Nickel says.

For more tips on diabetic foot care, visit these pages at FootCareMD, the patient education website of the American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society (AOFAS):  

>>Diabetic Foot Overview

>>How to Care for Your Diabetic Feet

>>Shoes and Orthotics for Diabetics

>>How to Prevent Losing Your Leg