Pillars of Diabetic Foot Care
When we talk about diabetic foot care, there are really four key pillars you need to keep in mind: manage the disease, protect your feet, inspect your feet daily, and seek treatment early.
The first pillar of diabetic foot is to manage your diabetes. Essentially, this comes down to the matter of making smart, healthy lifestyle decisions.
Sure, it’s important for anyone to eat well, exercise regularly, and get plenty of sleep at night, but these are especially critical when diabetes is in the picture.
Your dietary restrictions help you manage your glucose levels and ensure you are providing your body with the nutrients it needs to function at a high level. This is certainly linked to the systemic damage done when diabetes is left unchecked. Excessive blood sugars can destroy nerve tissue, impair circulation, and make the immune system unresponsive and ineffective.
Beyond diet, regular exercise—using activities approved by a doctor first—can help to reduce and even reverse the negative consequences of diabetes. When your muscles contract (something that happens whenever you move), it actually improves your body’s ability to uptake insulin.
Sleep is an underrated contributor to health, and particularly in this instance. Lack of sleep causes the body to produce too much cortisol. This particular hormone triggers insulin resistance, which is the opposite of what you actually need. Further, not getting enough sleep also means your body does not produce enough leptin—a hormone that controls appetite—while raising levels of ghrelin – a hormone that makes you want to eat more.
The second pillar of diabetic foot care is to protect your feet. Whereas certain problems can be treated, it is better to take measures to prevent them from even developing. To that end, you need to take measures like wearing diabetic footwear, washing your feet, and keeping them from becoming too dry.
Another protective measure you need to perform is to keep your nails trimmed correctly. The best practice for this is to leave it to the professionals at McVay Foot and Ankle. We can ensure this happens in a safe manner (to lower your risk of developing an ingrown nail or accidentally cutting yourself).
The third pillar of diabetic foot care is to inspect your feet every day. Since your feet spend so much time covered—coupled with the neuropathy (nerve damage) that often accompanies diabetes—it is entirely possible for you to be unaware of a developing condition. In time, minor conditions become major complications.
We would rather see you avoid developing a serious medical complication, so you need to check your feet on daily basis. The best practices for this include establishing a routine (inspecting your feet at the same time every day), inspecting in a well-lit area, and recruiting a loved one or using a mirror if you cannot see the bottoms of your feet. You may also need to use your fingers and run them over the surfaces of your feet to feel if there are any lumps or textural changes.
With regard to establishing a routine, one practice that works quite well for many diabetic patients is to inspect your feet before going to bed.
The fourth pillar of diabetic foot care is to seek professional help. Most of your diabetic foot care plan will be done on your end, but our team is here to help in different ways. To start, we can work with you to create your diabetic foot care plan in the first place!
In addition to those steps you will take yourself, an important component of diabetic foot care is setting up regular appointments with our office. By coming in every couple of months, we can catch issues before they become serious. Also, this enables you to ask questions and see if there is anything else you should be doing to manage your condition.
Remember, our team is here for you!
If you need treatment for any problem that could threaten the health of your lower limbs—or you need to consult with us for your diabetic foot care plan—simply call (719) 266-5000 to connect with our Colorado Springs practice. One of our team members will be happy to answer any questions and assist you in scheduling an appointment.