Diabetes is a serious disease that can affect your whole body – including your feet. It’s important to understand diabetes and its complications, so we are writing a series of blogs to learn more about this disease for National Diabetes Month in November.
Individuals with diabetes have too much blood sugar, called glucose, in their bloodstream. Excess blood sugar can cause complications like heart disease, nerve damage or neuropathy, kidney disease, skin and eye damage and foot ulcers.
Two complications work together to cause major problems for your feet. Neuropathy can cause pain in your extremities including your feet, but can also make your feet feel numb. If you have reduced sensation in your feet, you won’t know when you damage them with a bruise, cut or puncture wound. This can quickly worsen into a wound called an ulcer. Another problem for patients with diabetes is poor blood circulation or peripheral arterial disease. If adequate blood cannot reach the feet, the ulcer won’t heal properly.
Your Diabetes Management Team
It’s not enough to work through diabetes with your primary care doctor. You need specialists that will use their specific expertise to deal with your disease and help you control diabetes and its complications.
Your diabetes management team should include:
Your primary care physician for referrals and overall coordination
Endocrinologist to help control your diabetes
Ophthalmologist to monitor eye health especially because blood flow may be impaired
Vascular surgeon to address neuropathy and peripheral arterial disease
Pharmacist to monitor medications and counsel you on side effects and conflicts with over-the-counter drugs
Dentist to help prevent gum disease with regular cleanings and exams
Don’t forget to add a podiatrist to your team! Foot doctors have the right expertise to treat all foot problems including diabetes complications. We recommend a comprehensive foot exam twice a year to catch small problems before they can escalate into big ones.
Let us help manage your diabetes along with your other team members. Remember, diabetes is a whole-body disease and you need to care for your feet along with your blood sugar.