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Top Tips for Taking Good Care of Your Feet When You Have Diabetes

If you live with diabetes, you’re far from alone. More than 37 million adults in the United States have diabetes, making it one of the most common diseases in the country. 

A chronic condition, diabetes affects your blood sugar, or glucose, levels and how effectively your body can convert food into energy. Because diabetes affects your blood vessels and nerves, it can affect any area of your body. That said, your feet can be especially impacted.

Thankfully, preventive steps and good care can help lower your risk for diabetes complications and keep your feet in good shape long term.

At Oexeman Foot and Ankle, PLLC, in Chicago, Illinois, Dr. Stephanie Oexeman and our team provide complete care for diabetic feet.

Let’s take a closer look at diabetes and foot wellness, including tips to keep your own feet as healthy as possible.

Issues that affect diabetic feet

When you have diabetes, you’re at risk for peripheral artery disease (PAD) as well. This condition reduces blood flow to your feet, which can gradually lead to tissue damage. 

High blood sugar linked with diabetes can also lead to nerve damage called neuropathy. And neuropathy can cause tingling or numbness in your feet, raising your risk for mobility problems and injuries.

If diabetes-related tissue or nerve damage goes unaddressed, you can develop ulcers, infections, or even the need for foot amputation. In fact, 80% of lower limb amputations in the US stem from diabetes complications.

How to take good care of diabetic feet

Many of the tips that help ensure overall health while managing diabetes also help ensure healthy feet. At the same time, paying special attention to your foot health is important.

Practices to promote foot health by keeping your blood sugar in a good place include: 

  • Eating a diabetes-friendly diet
  • Regularly engaging in approved exercise 
  • Prioritizing healthy sleep habits
  • Managing stress
  • Staying well hydrated
  • Taking prescribed diabetes medications as directed

Foot-specific measures to embrace include:

  • Checking your feet for wounds and abnormalities daily 
  • Keeping any cuts you notice clean, dry, and protected
  • Seeking treatment for bleeding that continues after 20-30 minutes of applied pressure
  • Wearing comfortable, supportive shoes
  • Avoiding going barefoot, even indoors
  • Keeping your toenails trimmed (straight across)
  • Smoothing sharp nail edges with an emery board 
  • Wearing compression stockings

In addition, we recommend you see a foot and ankle specialist at least once a year when you have diabetes. Don’t hesitate to come into our office if you notice any foot or ankle abnormalities or if it’s been a year or more since your last appointment.

For severe issues, Dr. Oexeman offers specialized care, like diabetic limb salvage, muscle flaps for chronic wounds, and reconstructive foot and ankle surgery. 

To learn more about diabetes foot needs or get on track with the care you need, call our office or book an appointment online today.