Diabetic Foot Problems: When Should A Podiatrist Step In?

3 June 2019
 Categories: Health & Medical , Blog


When you're diagnosed with diabetes, you're in for some major changes to your diet, exercise routine, stress management, and much more. While a diabetes diagnosis can turn your world upside down, you still have to keep your feet on the ground—healthy feet, that is. Your feet are no exception to your diabetes care plan, and, in fact, should be at or near the top of your list of concerns. Here's when and how a podiatrist should step in.

1. If You Notice Any Discoloration of Your Feet

A reduced flow of blood to your feet may lead to odd coloring, such as a purple or red tone. This is most likely a result of your blood glucose levels going up and down a lot; thus, you may need to see a podiatrist, as well as your primary care doctor.

2. If You Feel Unexplained Pain

Unless your feet are suffering from an injury or foot abuse, like wearing ill-fitting shoes all day, when your feet start to hurt without an obvious reason, it might be a side effect of your disease. Peripheral neuropathy is a condition in which nerve damage inhibits the messages being sent between your brain and body, resulting in pain. Your peripheral nerve connects to your skin, organs, and muscles, meaning that damage to this nerve can lead to extensive complications. 

3. If Your Feet Are Swollen

Talk to a foot doctor as soon as you realize your feet are swollen, as this condition can lead to falls from pain or feeling off-balance. Swelling, or edema, is, in this case, probably a result of fluid retention. Your podiatrist will prescribe foot rest, elevating those swollen feet and, possibly, medication to aid your body in eliminating excess fluid. They might also send you home with a pair of compression socks, which should improve circulation.

4. If You Have an Issue with a Toenail 

Toenails may be small, but they can cause big problems, especially for a diabetic. A simple ingrown nail can lead to a serious infection, largely due to the fact that your diabetes compromises your body's ability to heal itself. Even if you're able to trim your own toenails, you're much better off having it done at the podiatrist's office. With the in-person visit, you'll get an examination of your feet, which should be done regularly. Additionally, your nails will be trimmed in the safest way possible, avoiding potential infections.

5. If You Lose Feeling in Your Feet or Toes

Your diabetic (peripheral) neuropathy may leave you with less feeling in your feet and toes. This is something to alert your podiatrist and other members of your medical team about. Exercise can help with neuropathy, as it strengthens the muscles in the affected area and may contribute to more regulated blood glucose levels. Eventually, losing feeling in your feet and toes could lead to dangerous falls, making this symptom something you need to take very seriously, even if it seems annoying at first.

6. If Your Feet Have Sores That Linger

Open sores, sometimes called ulcers, can be serious for you, the diabetic, who may have problems healing. Any sore on the foot may make walking hazardous, besides the ongoing risk of infection. An ulcer will be red, sore, surrounded by thicker-than-usual skin, and likely situated on the bottom or side of your (aching) foot. Any opening of the skin, no matter how it was created or how minimal your symptoms, warrants a call to the foot doctor, because you're a diabetic and need that extra monitoring.

7. Since You're Diabetic, a Podiatrist Should Be Involved with Your Treatment Every Step of the Way

Even without any pressing foot issues, you need regular checkups with a podiatrist. They'll offer helpful information on how to keep your feet as healthy as possible based on your particular situation. Unfortunately, diabetes-related amputations seem to be rising, not falling, as you might think. A podiatrist can steer you toward having the healthiest feet possible to hopefully avoid such drastic measures being taken.

Your life is complicated enough with diabetes; don't allow your feet to become an overwhelming problem. Make your foot doctor a permanent member of your care team, keep every appointment, and bring any changes in your feet to their attention, no matter how small they may seem. Reach out to a business like Carolina Foot &  Ankle Specialists for more information.