If you have diabetes and want to experience the best quality of life possible, part of managing your condition means taking care of your feet. This is because diabetes increases your risk of serious foot complications, including developing diabetic foot ulcers.
The board-certified providers at Arlington/Mansfield Foot & Ankle Centers help patients with diabetes in the Arlington and Mansfield areas of Texas maintain healthy feet with our specialized diabetic foot care.
By taking a moment to learn more about diabetic foot ulcers, you can do more to prevent this serious condition from developing and recognize the signs that it’s time to seek medical help. Here’s what you need to know.
Why does diabetes affect my feet?
Higher glucose (blood sugar) levels damage your nerves and circulatory system. Because the nerves in your feet are farther away from your heart than other nerves, they’re the first affected by this kind of damage.
When nerve damage causes you to lose sensation in your feet and extremities, you’re diagnosed with diabetic neuropathy. This makes it hard to know when you get a crack, cut, blister, or other wounds on your foot.
What are diabetic foot ulcers?
Researchers report most diabetic foot ulcers are caused by diabetic neuropathy. This is because neuropathy makes it more difficult for the skin on your feet to heal.
When the skin gets damaged, it can lead to painful open sores called ulcers. If an ulcer goes untreated, it can develop an infection called gangrene and possibly lead to amputation.
Most diabetic foot ulcers develop on the balls of your feet or under your big toes. Signs of a diabetic foot ulcer include:
- Drainage that may stain your socks or shoes
- Swelling, redness, or irritation on your feet
- Bad odor coming from your feet
- Black tissue (eschar) around the sore
Keep in mind, however, that not all ulcers have noticeable signs. That’s why seeing a podiatrist regularly is important if you have diabetes.
What happens if I get a diabetic foot ulcer?
The good news is that most diabetic foot ulcers heal when treated early. If you notice any signs of a foot ulcer, try to stay off your feet to reduce pressure on the sore and prevent any infection from spreading.
You’ll also want to schedule an appointment for treatment as soon as possible. Your Arlington/Mansfield Foot & Ankle Centers provider treats your ulcer based on your unique needs, which may include:
- Bracing, casting, or other footgear (e.g., prescription orthotics) to off-load pressure from the ulcer
- Recommending the use of diabetic shoes to reduce irritation/rubbing
- Wound cleaning to remove infected or dead tissue
- Medications to kill the infection and promote healing
In severe cases, your provider may recommend surgery to close the wound.
How can I prevent diabetic foot ulcers from returning?
The best way to prevent diabetic foot ulcers is to manage your blood sugar. Research shows when people with diabetes get their blood glucose levels under control, they prevent and/or slow the foot complications associated with the disease. Other tips include:
- Getting regular exercise to improve circulation and control your blood sugar
- Wearing well-fitting, diabetic-friendly shoes, and footwear that accommodate swelling
- Practicing excellent foot hygiene with trimmed nails and regular inspections for blisters, wounds, and infection
- Moisturizing your feet to prevent crack
- Changing socks frequently to keep your feet dry
- Getting regular diabetic foot care from a qualified podiatrist
The Arlington/Mansfield Foot & Ankle Centers team offers the best diabetic foot care. This means giving you both the acute care you need when something goes wrong and the preventive treatments that can stop foot ulcers from returning.
The first step is scheduling an annual preventive diabetic foot care exam. This appointment allows your provider to address any issues early, before major complications start to develop. We also give you tips about self-care and make footwear recommendations to reduce your risk of getting foot ulcers.
If you have any troubling foot symptoms, don’t wait for your annual exam to see your doctor! Coming in as soon as you notice a problem makes treating it easier and reduces your risk of serious complications, like amputation.
If you experience any of the following warning signs, call our office to schedule an appointment as soon as possible:
- Blood or other drainages (e.g., fluid; pus) in your shoes or socks
- Pain, numbness, or tingling sensation in your toes, feet, or ankles
- Pain or stiffness in your ankle, toe, or foot joints
- Generalized foot pain or difficulty with mobility or footwear
If you have diabetes, learn more about our specialized diabetic foot care or get help for foot ulcers by scheduling an appointment online or over the phone at Arlington/Mansfield Foot & Ankle Centers.