Foot Health for Happy Feet

In honor of National Foot Health Awareness month (April) this article will focus on foot health.

Feet are vital to so many daily activities; it can be easy to take healthy feet for granted. Poor foot health can make even the most basic self-care tasks such as: bathing, toileting, showering, and preparing food a true challenge.

According to the 2018 Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes, “Foot ulcers and amputation, which are consequences of diabetic neuropathy and/or peripheral artery disease are common and represent major cause of morbidity and mortality in people with diabetes.”1 Such complications can be delayed and possibly prevented with early recognition and optimal treatment.1

Diabetic neuropathy

Diabetic neuropathy is nerve damage related to diabetes. Nerve damage can affect any part of your body, however the nerves in your feet and legs (diabetic peripheral neuropathy) are most commonly affected.2 According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Between 60% and 70% of people with diabetes have diabetic neuropathy…”2 Early symptoms of diabetic neuropathy include: pain, burning, and tingling. Additional symptoms may also include numbness and loss of protective sensation.1Nearly 50% of those with diabetic peripheral neuropathy have no symptoms. If necessary foot care and preventative measures are not taken there will be a greater risk for foot injuries.1Risk factors for diabetic neuropathyDiabetes durationPoor glycemic control (i.e. hyperglycemia and elevated A1c)AgePrediabetesHigh blood pressureDyslipidemia (abnormal blood lipids)ObesityHeight (i.e. greater height associated with greater risk)Smoking3
Peripheral artery diseasePeripheral artery disease (PAD) is a narrowing of the blood vessels to the legs, stomach, arms and head. The legs are most commonly affected.4 Some of the common symptoms of PAD include: cramping, pain, or tiredness of the lower extremities (area from the hip to the toes) that occurs while walking or climbing up stairs.4Risk factors for peripheral artery diseaseAgingHistory of cardiovascular disease or strokeSmokingDiabetesHigh Blood PressureHigh CholesterolObesityLimited physical activity5Other common foot problems not specific to diabetesIf you have diabetes, any of the following foot problems may be a greater threat; especially if an infection develops:Athlete’s footToenail with fungal infectionCallusesCornsBlistersBunionsDry skinFoot ulcersHammertoesIngrown toenailsPlantar warts6Foot care recommendations According to the 2018 Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes, your physician should be inspecting your feet at every visit and additionally, “perform a comprehensive foot evaluation at least annually to identify risk factor for ulcers and amputations.”1 During your foot exam, the following should be evaluated:Skin healthFoot deformitiesNeurological assessmentVascular assessmentPreventative foot care education should also be provided1Self-care tips for keeping feet healthyIf you are vision impaired, have limited mobility, and/or limited range of motion, ask a family member or close friend to assist you with daily foot care.Inspect your feet everyday and closely observe for cuts, sores, blisters, an any other abnormalities.Wash your feet in warm water daily and dry completely. Test water first to ensure it is not too hot.Use lotion to keep feet well moisturizedToe nail care (ask your primary care physician, endocrinologist, or podiatrist for guidelines on trimming your toe nails)Always wear clean socksMake sure your shoes fit properly. Feel the inside of your shoe before putting it on to make sure nothing is in your shoe that shouldn’t be there.Avoid walking barefoot7When to seek medical attention Inform your physician as soon as possible, if you are experiencing any of the following (in regards to your feet):Cuts, sores, blisters, callusesRednessPainBurningTinglingNumbness and/or loss of sensation

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