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What is diabetes?

Diabetes is the inability to make or properly use insulin, and it impairs the body’s ability to convert sugars, starches, and other foods into energy.

The long-term effects of elevated blood sugar (hyperglycemia) can lead to serious damage to the eyes, heart, kidney, nerves, and feet.

Diabetes affects the lives of nearly 26 million people in the United States and nearly seven million don’t even know they have the disease yet.

Many symptoms/signs of diabetes can manifest themselves in the feet, so it is important to look for any warning signs. A simple complaint that we often see in our office is a “bunched up sock” feeling on the bottoms of your feet. This is often a subtle symptom of neuropathy associate with diabetes. Be on the look-out for other symptoms such as:

  • Skin color changes
  • Swelling of the feet or ankles
  • Numbness or pain in the feet or toes
  • Open sores on the feet that are slow to heal
  • Ingrown and fungal toenails
  • Corns and calluses
  • Dry or cracked skin, especially around the heel

Because diabetes is a disease affecting many parts of the body, successful management requires a team approach. The keys to amputation prevention are early recognition and regular foot screenings performed by a podiatrist, the foot and ankle expert.

If you have diabetes, these simple foot tips will help

Inspect feet daily. Check your feet and toes every day for cuts, bruises, sores, or changes to the toenails, such as thickening or discoloration.

Wear thick, soft socks. Avoid socks with seams, which could rub and cause blisters or other skin injuries.

Exercise. Walking can keep weight down and improve circulation. Be sure to wear appropriate athletic shoes when exercising.

Have new shoes properly measured and fitted. Foot size and shape may change over time.

Don’t go barefoot. Don’t go without shoes, even in your own home. The risk of cuts and infection is too great for those with diabetes.

Do not remove calluses, corns, or warts yourself. Over-the-counter products can burn the skin.

Regular checkups by a podiatrist—at least annually—are the best way to ensure that your feet remain healthy.