Diabetic foot care is not something you keep tucked away until something goes wrong with your feet. If you are only paying attention to your foot health when it needs the most help, you are doing yourself a great disservice!
Planning and persistence are essential parts of diabetic foot care for anyone who is living with this condition. It doesn’t matter whether you have been recently diagnosed or know you’ve had diabetes for years, or whether your feet feel perfectly fine now or have problems you must keep on top of.
Diabetes has wide-ranging effects on the human body, including the feet. Even when your feet feel great now (and we hope they do!), the consequences of the disease can slowly creep in and eat away at that health. Planning for such problems and taking action against them now can mean the difference between continued health and mobility or serious, debilitating complications down the road.
What is a Diabetic Foot Care Plan… Planning For?
The best plan for diabetic foot care is a proactive one. The goals are to:
- Reduce the risks of diabetic complications to the feet as much as possible.
- Ensure that if problems do happen, they are less severe and detected early.
- Protect the feet against small injuries and conditions that the effects of diabetes can turn into larger ones.
Why such a focus on the feet, though? It’s important to protect the whole body against the ill effects of diabetes, of course, but the feet are in a particularly vulnerable spot.
Two of the frequent gradual effects of diabetes – constricted circulation and nerve damage – can severely affect the feet over time.
It is already more of a challenge for blood to flow to the feet normally, due to how far they are from the heart. If blood vessels narrow and harden due to peripheral artery disease (PAD, which diabetes often contributes to causing), the feet tend to feel it first. Injuries to the feet take longer to heal since not enough nutrients and materials are being carried by the blood to cells in the feet that need them for repairs.
Restricted blood flow and other effects of diabetes itself can also damage the nerves in the feet, making it more difficult to sense when injuries occur. When slow healing and difficulty detecting injuries combine, even a small cut has the opportunity to become wider, deeper, and infected.
Such a situation might seem far off, depending on your current health, but we want to avoid it by any means necessary. That starts with a diabetic foot care plan now.
Parts of a Diabetic Foot Care Plan
A proactive plan for diabetic care might not look the same for everyone. Different patients have different histories and needs that may require placing more focus on certain areas.
That said, some of the general preventative measures we may recommend as part of a diabetic foot care plan include the following.
Daily Foot Inspection
A daily diabetic foot inspection is arguably the most important thing you can do to help yourself avoid potentially serious problems.
Simply take a few moments each day to check your feet for cuts, sores, ingrown toenails, warts, or anything else that shouldn’t be there. Help yourself make this a habit by finding a consistent time that’s convenient for you, such as after a shower or before going to bed.
If you find anything, let us know if it is an immediate concern or if it doesn't start to go away in a day or two. We might ask you to come in for a closer look or to simply continue monitoring the situation. Either way, we’ll have a record we can look back on when determining any changes we may need to make for your best care.
And yes, you should still check your feet every day even if they look and feel fine! You’ll become an expert on knowing when things aren’t right.
We might recommend diabetic shoes for patients with specific needs, but other patients may still be relatively fine wearing conventional shoes. Of course, you should still make sure that footwear is supportive and accommodating to your needs!
Avoid shoes with high heels, narrowed toe boxes, unsupportive arches, or tight fits. Such features can cause excess pressure toward specific areas when walking, increasing the chances of damaging strain and friction.
Always go with shoes that are comfortable and fully support your feet. If your shoes or socks cause you any irritation, ditch them. That can easily lead to problems over time.
Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle
Managing your blood sugar and sticking to a healthy diet is essential, of course, but there is more you can do for your feet and body as well.
Staying safely active can significantly help your circulation over time. If you have concerns about what activities would pose the least risks to your foot health, we will always be happy to discuss them with you. We absolutely want you to be able to do the activities you love!
Other simple steps, like making sure to wash your feet daily and properly trim your toenails, should also not be overlooked.
Keep Up with Regular Check-Ins
There is much you can do yourself to maintain a great diabetic foot care plan, but having an expert in your corner is the best way to guide your treatment through the future.
We can maintain a history of your foot health and incidences, which is valuable information when determining if there are any adjustments or additions you may need for better care. We also have many years of experience detecting potential problems that are easy to miss.
Not only are we happy to work with you to prevent diabetic complications; we’re happy to work with your primary care physician and anyone else on your medical team as well. The more we share, the more we can all do for your best interests.
Schedule an appointment with Advanced Foot & Ankle by calling us or filling out our online contact form.