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.
Diabetes can cause problems, literally head-to-toe, and the damage that can occur to your feet is no joke. While most of us have a vague idea that diabetic feet need special care, we usually don’t look into the details until it’s absolutely necessary—in other words, when things are already going wrong. That’s why I’d encourage you—whether you’ve experienced trouble with your feet to date or not—to take a moment to learn about foot health with diabetes in this series of articles.
Keeping your A1c, blood pressure, and lipid results (cholesterol and triglyceride levels) in a safe range are the most important factors to avoiding neuropathy.
- Be sure that your healthcare provider checks your feet regularly. These checks should include feeling your pulse, looking at the skin (including between your toes), and checking sensation with some combination of simple devices; a tuning fork, a pin or pinwheel, and a small bendable fiber.
- To ward off foot ailments, it’s vital to keep the muscles in your feet and legs strong. Simple walking is one of the easiest and most effective ways to do this, experts say.
- Diabetes may cause you to sweat less, which can lead to cracked, dry skin. So when you trim your toenails, take care not to injure the surrounding skin. If you have poor blood circulation in your legs or aren't able to see well enough to trim your nails, have your podiatrist (foot doctor) do it for you.
- If you’re traveling and doing a lot of walking, it’s a good idea to simply change your shoes often so the support and pressure points on your feet are rotated. If you bought new shoes for your trip, try wearing them for a while before you leave in order to “break them in.”
Avoiding further damage
- Avoid walking around barefoot, even if the weather is nice and the ground seems smooth and “safe.” It’s just too easy to injure your feet or pick up tiny splinters that you don’t notice until they cause real problems.
- Wear moisture-resistant socks and well-fitting shoes with flexible soles made from crepe or foam rubber and soft leather tops that allow your feet to breathe. To prevent pressure sores on your feet, make sure your socks don't bunch or wrinkle inside your shoes.
- If you’ve got a little money to invest, you can learn more about caring for diabetic foot problems in a quality video called If You Have Diabetes, produced by Alpyn Health Education, available on Amazon.com for about $54.