charcot foot and diabetes

How to maintain foot health if you have diabetes

In Conditions, Foot Facts by Alnoor Ladhani, Chiropodist

We’ve talked about how diabetes and foot health before on this blog.  Diabetes can have a huge impact on your foot health, and in turn, problems with your feet can have a devastating impact on your overall health as a person with diabetes.  Today, we’ll share some additional precautions you can take to manage your foot health if you have diabetes.

In a previous post, we talked about choosing the right footwear for diabetics and the importance of protecting your feet from even minor injuries.

Today, we’ll share some other precautions you can take to manage your foot health when you are diabetic.

Diabetes can cause changes in your foot’s shape

charcot foot and diabetesDiabetes can cause nerve damage such as peripheral neuropathy. In turn, nerve damage can cause changes to the shape of your feet.  Damaged nerves can’t send the correct messages to the muscles in your feet that control proper movement.  Your muscles become weak, and the bones may shift out of place.

Diabetic nerve damage can also cause a condition called Charcot foot.  In the early stages, Charcot foot causes your joints to become stiff and fill with fluid.  It can lead to changes in your foot’s shape, and ultimately, may require surgery and could put your limb at risk.

Early symptoms of Charcot foot include:

  • warm, red skin
  • swelling
  • pain

Remember that due to nerve damage, you might not feel a lot of pain or warmth. Look for swelling and skin discolouration and if you see anything abnormal, see your chiropodist

If your foot shape has changed due to nerve damage from diabetes, customized orthotic shoes or inserts will help keep you on your feet while protecting them from injury.

Smoking and diabetes

If you smoke and you have diabetes, you are at a higher risk for foot complications.

Smoking can cause your blood vessels to become narrow and hard. This affects your blood flow, which then can lead to nerve damage because good blood flow is important for nerve health

Diabetes already heightens your risk of other serious health complications, as does smoking. When you have diabetes and smoke at the same time, your risk goes even further up.

If you smoke, you don’t have to quit alone.  Ask your doctor for strategies to help you.

See your chiropodist regularly

If you have diabetes, you should be making regular appointments with a chiropodist to have your feet assessed, and you should make an appointment immediately if you notice any problems.

How often you should see a chiropodist will depend on your specific situation. You should be going at least once per year, but if you already have foot complications from diabetes you should be assessed more often.

Also, if you have trouble cutting your own toenails, or experience dry, cracking skin or callouses, additional trips to your chiropodist will help manage these concerns as well.

For example, at Step by Step Family Foot Care, we will help you manage your toenails and keep your skin soft and supple with our medically safe pedicure service. Treat your feet to a spa experience and manage potential side effects of diabetes at the same time!

Call to book an appointment today for a diabetic foot assessment or to address any other concerns you have with your feet. We’re always here to help!