Diabetic Foot Pain: How To Pamper Your Feet And Why Orthopedic Shoes Matter
As if controlling your blood sugars isn’t enough to worry about, now you are learning that you have to take special care of your feet! Chronically elevated sugar causes damage to your nervous system resulting in decreased sensation, typically in the hands and feet. This common complication of diabetes is called peripheral neuropathy.
Peripheral neuropathy leaves patients vulnerable to foot injury that can go unnoticed due to lack of sensation. Because diabetics often have poor circulation that slows healing, even the smallest injury can quickly result in deep pressure ulcers, infection and amputation.
Proper foot care involving daily foot checks and detailed exams by your physician is so important because it will reduce complications such as swelling, deformity, pressure sores, infection and amputation. The good news is that you are your own best defense against these complications from diabetes.
How do I take good care of my feet?
- Control your sugars! Improved glucose control reduces damage to your nerves and circulatory system resulting in healthier feet that heal well. Be sure to have your routine a1c blood test done to be sure that your diabetes is in proper control.
- Stop smoking! Smoking contributes to reduced blood flow and poor healing by causing peripheral artery disease.
- Perform daily foot checks! Wash your feet daily in warm water and pat dry. Inspect them very carefully EVERY day. You want to pay careful attention to the bottom of the foot and between your toes. Watch for any break in the skin, such as scrapes, cuts, and puncture wounds. See your physician immediately if you notice any wounds, redness or swelling. If you cannot check your own feet, ask a family member to help you.
- Schedule routine physical exams! Your doctor should do a detailed foot exam every year. This should include checking your ability to sense vibration, pressure and pain and an assessment of reflexes and pulses. If your exam is abnormal you may be referred for additional testing or to a foot specialist.
- Protect your feet! Avoid exposure to extreme hot and cold by wearing proper socks and boots. Do not use heating pads or hot water on your feet. To reduce pressure sores purchase quality seamless socks that are made of materials that absorb moisture. Do not wear socks that are too tight or have holes.
- Improve blood flow! Get up and move frequently to improve circulation. Prop your feet up and do not cross your legs while seated.
- Buy proper footwear! Invest in quality diabetic shoes to prevent foot complications. Shop in the afternoon to accommodate for foot swelling. Shoes should be properly fitted, have good cushioning and a high, wide toe box to allow extra room for your toes. Consider shoes with rocker bottom soles to reduce injuries from pressure. Find orthopedic shoes with removable insoles so that you can insert orthotics if recommended by your doctor. Keep in mind that severe foot deformities may require custom orthopedic shoes. To buy orthopedic shoes for diabetics, check out local specialty stores or online vendors. Click here to learn more about orthopedic shoe brands.
If you like your feet and plan to keep them, invest in quality orthopedic footwear, keep those sugars in control and continue proper foot care to reduce your risk of lower extremity pressure sores, infections and amputations.