Have Diabetes? A Few Simple Steps May Keep Your Feet Healthy
Nov 9, 2017 - 3:56:47 PM
But that can catch up with you. One of the challenging complications of diabetes occurs when patients' high blood sugar damages the blood vessels, which leads to poor blood circulation in the legs and feet. When the feet are deprived of oxygen-rich blood, a condition called diabetic foot can develop, causing foot ulcers that heal very slowly, or not at all. As the disease progresses it can lead to gangrene and even amputation.
"Around 80 percent of diabetes-related lower extremity amputations start out as a foot ulcer," said vascular surgeon Dr. Anil P. Hingorani, a member of the Society for Vascular Surgery. Vascular surgeons typically have many patients with diabetes, who need specialized vascular care to keep their feet healthy. For these patients, it is extremely important to pay attention to foot health, and to never ignore an open sore on the foot.
Diabetes patients with lower extremity wounds should be evaluated by a podiatrist, physician or an advanced health practitioner, said Dr. Hingorani.
If foot ulcers develop and don't heal, it may be a sign that the legs and feet are not getting enough oxygen-rich blood due to narrowed, hardened arteries that are made worse by diabetes.
At that point, patients should see a vascular surgeon who can evaluate the patient's vascular health as well as the foot ulcer. That doesn't mean they will have to have surgery, but vascular surgeons are highly trained to know exactly how to treat diabetic foot complications. Patients who have regular Medicare (not an HMO) can see a surgeon without a referral. (A "find a specialist" search tool is here.)
Meanwhile, if you are willing to take a few simple steps to prevent diabetic foot disease, the following tips may help:
For many patients with diabetes, the illness requires careful attention to daily routine. Foot care should be part of that daily health maintenance.
The Society for Vascular Surgery® (SVS) is a 5,800-plus member, not-for-profit professional medical society, composed primarily of specialty-trained vascular surgeons, which seeks to advance excellence and innovation in vascular health through education, advocacy, research and public awareness.