Diabetic feet need special care because of decreased circulation, neuropathy, joint deterioration, and more. While your primary care physician may guide you on blood sugar control, medications, a healthy diet, and active lifestyle, your podiatrist assesses and treats how your feet and ankles function everyday and for the long term. Enlist their help in the health maintenance of your diabetic feet.
Keeping ahead of neuropathy and avoiding amputation
Those are two key goals of diabetic foot care. Your podiatrist will want to see you regularly to assess the color, temperature, sensation, function, and shape of your feet and ankles, noting any developing problems. Early detection of circulation issues, nerve degeneration (neuropathy), and deformities, such as hammertoes, bunions, and Charcot Foot, are key.
Your podiatric foot examination will include an eye-on inspection of your skin (color, temperature, texture, and integrity). Your foot doctor also may perform gait analysis to watch for changes in how you walk. Sometimes a podiatrist orders X-ray imaging or an MRI to view the internal structure of the foot and/or ankle.
Remember, that foot ulcers are the primary threat to the overall health and well-being of the diabetic, says the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI). Untreated, they may lead to complications so severe amputation is the only option.
What can you do to treat your diabetic feet?
- Be proactive. Inspect your feet daily, looking redness or skin breakdown.
- Wash and dry your feet daily.
- Trim your toenails carefully using a clean clippers. Trim straight across and not too short to avoid ingrown toenails.
- Wear shoes at all times--even indoors--to avoid injury.
- Wear clean, well-fitting, moisture-wicking socks.
- Keep your weight and blood sugars within normal range.
- Get in-office treatment of calluses and corns, says the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons.
- Avoid all forms of tobacco.
- Report any changes to your foot doctor as soon as possible.
- See your podiatrist every six months or as he or she directs.
Healthy feet and a healthy you
Podiatric health is so important, but especially to the diabetic. So stay in touch with your foot doctor, and be routinized in your foot care for better long-term health.
An unexpected fall or twist can result in an injury of the foot or ankle, such as a sprain or strain. Immediate first aid can help prevent complications, reduce pain and improve recovery.
Rest, ice, compression and elevation--commonly referred to as R.I.C.E.--is the first and best treatment for minor injuries. The following tips can aid in the early treatment of common foot and ankle injuries to help reduce swelling and control the inflammatory process during the initial phase of injury.
Rest: Whether you have a strain or a sprain, rest from any physical activity is essential to protecting your injured ligaments, tendons or muscles from further damage while your body starts the repair process. Avoid putting weight on the injured foot or ankle as much as possible. In some cases, complete immobilization may be required.
Ice: Gently ice your foot or ankle with ice wrapped in a towel in a 20-minute-on, 40-minute-off cycle for the first few days post-injury. Ice is excellent at reducing inflammation and pain.
Compression: Applying some type of compressive wrap or bandage to an injured area can greatly reduce the amount of initial swelling.
Elevation: Prop your foot up while lying down or sitting so that it is higher than or equal to the level of the heart.
After a few days of R.I.C.E., many acute injuries will begin to heal. If pain or swelling does not subside after a few days, or if you are unsure of the severity of your injury, make an appointment with your podiatrist. A skilled podiatrist can properly diagnose your injury and recommend the best course of treatment.
Understanding Heel Pain with Help from Your Podiatrist
- Wear shoes that fit well
- Wear proper shoes for each activity
- Do not wear shoes with excessive wear on heels or soles
- Prepare properly before exercising by stretching and warming up
- Pace yourself when you participate in athletic activities
- Don’t underestimate your body’s need for rest and good nutrition
- Lose excess weight
Many people think corns and calluses are the same thing, but there are differences. A corn is smaller than a callus, and has a hard center which is surrounded by inflamed tissue. Unlike calluses, corns can be painful and make it difficult to wear shoes. The good news is, your podiatrist can help get rid of corns and get you back on your feet.
Corns typically develop to protect your feet and toes from friction and pressure. They can be found in both weight bearing and non-weight bearing areas including between your toes, and on the tops and sides of your toes.
According to the Mayo Clinic, common signs and symptoms of a corn include:
- A thick, rough area of skin
- A hardened, raised bump
- Tenderness or pain under the skin
Since corns are caused by friction and pressure, you can do a lot to prevent corn development. Remember to:
- Wear shoes with plenty of room for your toes
- Use padding or bandages in your shoes
- Soak your feet in warm water to soften corns
- After soaking, rub the corn with a pumice stone to remove hardened skin
- Moisturize your feet every day to keep your skin soft
If you have diabetes and you develop a corn or other foot problem, you need the help of an expert, your podiatrist. Self-treating foot issues when you are diabetic can lead to injuries that don’t heal and could get worse, resulting in a serious infection.
Fortunately, your podiatrist can recommend several treatment options to get rid of corns, including:
- Trimming away excess skin to reduce friction
- Corn-removing medication containing salicylic acid
- Custom-fit inserts or orthotics
- Surgery if the corn is caused from friction due to poor bone alignment
You don’t have to deal with painful corns by yourself. Get some relief from the pain by visiting your podiatrist. Your feet are important, so seek out the best care possible to protect your feet.
Heel pain is one of the most common complaints a podiatrist hears about from patients. If you are dealing with heel pain above the heel bone then you could be dealing with Achilles Tendonitis, a result of overuse. The Achilles tendon is the longest tendon in the body and it serves to connect the muscles of the calf with the lower leg and heel bone.
While Achilles Tendonitis tends to occur most often in runners, this condition can still occur in athletes that play certain sports such as soccer or tennis. Unfortunately, this tendon does weaken as we get older, which makes at an increased risk for developing this overuse injury as we age.
What are the symptoms of Achilles Tendonitis?
The most obvious symptom of Achilles Tendonitis is pain above the heel bone. When the pain first appears it’s usually pretty mild and you may only notice it after running; however, over time you may notice that the pain gets worse after certain exercises. Along with pain you may also experience stiffness or tenderness in the heel, especially in the morning or after long periods of sitting.
When should I see a podiatrist?
If this is the first time that you’ve ever experienced heel pain then it’s a good idea to turn to a foot doctor who can determine whether Achilles Tendonitis is causing your symptoms or whether it’s something else. If you’re experiencing chronic heel pain around the Achilles tendon it’s also a good time to see a doctor. If the pain is severe or you are unable to put weight on your foot it’s possible that you might be dealing with a ruptured tendon, which requires immediate attention.
How do you treat Achilles Tendonitis?
In most cases, Achilles Tendonitis can be treated with simple self-care options. Unless symptoms are severe you may be able to treat your heel pain by:
- Taking over-the-counter pain medications
- Avoiding high-impact activities or activities that exacerbate symptoms
- Elevating the foot to reduce swelling
- Performing stretching exercises or undergoing physical therapy
- Icing the heel
- Wearing custom orthotics
- Replacing worn-out shoes, especially running shoes
Surgery is only necessary if your symptoms aren’t responding to any other nonsurgical treatment options after several months or if the tendon is torn.
If you think your heel pain could be the result of Achilles Tendonitis then it’s time to turn to a podiatrist as soon as possible. A podiatrist can provide you with a variety of treatment options, from simple lifestyle modifications to custom orthotics.
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