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Diabetic Foot Problems - Important Info For Caring Your Feet

Diabetic Foot Problems

The two main foot problems that affect people with diabetes are:

Diabetic Neuropathy
Over time, diabetes can cause nerve damage that makes it hard for people to feel sensation in their extremities.
This condition also makes it difficult for a person to feel a foot irritation or notice when their shoes are rubbing. This lack of sensation and awareness leads to an increase in the risk of cuts, sores, and blisters developing.

Peripheral Vascular Disease
Diabetes leads to changes in the blood vessels and arteries. In peripheral vascular disease, fatty deposits block these vessels beyond the brain and heart. It tends to affect the blood vessels leading to and from the extremities, reducing blood flow to the hands and feet.
Reduced blood flow can lead to pain, infection, and slow healing wounds. Severe infections may lead to amputation.

Symptoms vary from person to person. Symptoms of diabetic foot problems can include the following:

  1. loss of feeling
  2. numbness or tingling sensation
  3. blisters or other wounds without painful
  4. skin discoloration
  5. skin temperature changes
  6. red streaks
  7. wounds with or without drainage
  8. painful tingling
  9. staining on socks
  10. deformed foot appearance

If an infection is present in a foot, a person may also experience some of the following:

  1. fever
  2. chills
  3. uncontrollable blood sugar
  4. shaking
  5. shock
  6. redness

Anyone who experiences any of the symptoms of an infection should seek emergency treatment.
Complications Diabetic neuropathy and peripheral vascular disease are serious conditions that must be monitored closely. Both cause complications that can have serious negative effects. These complications may include:

  1. foot ulcers, or wounds, that do not heal
  2. infections, including skin infections, bone infections, and abscesses
  3. gangrene, when an infection causes tissue death
  4. foot deformity
  5. Charcot’s Foot (fractures or dislocations in the foot that may cause deformities)

When To See A Doctor

Seek immediate medical attention if there are changes to the feet such as skin color, persistent sores, tingling, and swelling of the foot or ankle.

People who have diabetes should see a doctor regularly as part of their care. Immediate medical attention should take place if any of the following is perceived:

  1. changes in foot skin color
  2. swelling in the foot or ankle
  3. temperature changes in the feet
  4. persistent sores on the feet
  5. pain or tingling in the feet or ankles
  6. ingrown toenails
  7. athlete’s foot or other foot fungal infections
  8. dry and cracked skin on the heels
  9. signs of infection

Treatment Surgical and nonsurgical treatments for diabetic foot problems vary according to the severity of the condition.

Nonsurgical treatment Nonsurgical options are normally the first method of treatment for diabetic foot problems. Some of these include:

  1. keeping wounds clean and dressed
  2. immobilization devices, such as a cast boot or total contact cast
  3. close observation of gangrene toes until self-amputation occurs, when the toes fall off due to lack of blood flow

Surgical treatment When nonsurgical treatment fails to heal diabetic foot problems, surgery may be considered. Surgical options include:

  1. removal of decaying or dead tissue
  2. amputation, varying from toe or part of the foot to amputation of the leg below the knee, or above the knee in some cases
  3. surgical stabilization of Charcot’s Foot
  4. arterial bypass for peripheral vascular disease, or endovascular surgery with placement of stents

Contact our offices Laurel Foot & Ankle Center or Northern Virginia Foot & Ankle Associates  and schedule an appointment today.
To learn more about Diabetes and your feet, go to Heel Pain Institute of America and Laurel Foot & Ankle Center or Northern Virginia Foot & Ankle Associates.


Francis J. Smith, D.P.M., A.B.F.A.S.
Board certified in Foot Surgery and Michael A. Klein, D.P.M. A.B.F.A.S.
Board certified in Foot Surgery​

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