Amy Tenderich was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in May of 2003. She is the founder and editor-in-chief of Diabetes Mine and co-authored the book Know Your Numbers, Outlive Your Diabetes. You will frequently find her speaking at diabetes, health, and social media events across the country.
If anything were really wrong with my foot, it would hurt … right?
The vagueness and misconceptions about diabetes and feet often starts with this notion. You should know that the culprit here is the loss of feeling in your feet that can be caused by diabetes.
That is, diabetes itself doesn’t necessarily lead to amputation, but unnoticed injuries do!
Especially if your feet feel numb, it’s very important to look at them every day to check for blisters, bunions, cuts, or anything unusual, and seek help right away if there are abnormalities. You should also inspect the tip of your big toe, the base of the little toes, between your toes, your heel, the outside edge of your foot, and across the ball of your foot every day. Look for puncture wounds, bruises, pressure areas, redness, warmth, blisters, ulcers, scratches, and nail problems.
A 58-year-old San Diego man with type 2 diabetes recently told me this disturbing—but all-too-common—story:
“I once dropped a whole wad of car keys into my shoe and was walking around on them all day, and I didn’t feel anything! They were cutting into my foot, so that at the end of the day all I noticed was blood on my sock.”
He later experienced a staph infection in that foot, which required partial amputation.
Diabetes foot care is all about being aware of this loss of sensation as it occurs, and checking, checking, checking those feet every day for small cuts or injuries that you likely won’t feel. The goal is to catch them and treat them before they become infected, which is where the real trouble begins.