A Botany graduate, Nithya Venkat enjoys researching and writing about topics that interest her.
Diabetes is a condition that is caused due to lack of insulin in the body to control blood sugar levels. Insulin is a hormone that is produced by the pancreas to regulate glucose levels in the blood.
Diabetes can be due to the pancreas not producing sufficient insulin to control blood sugar, or in some cases, it may not produce any insulin at all. This condition is referred to as Type 1 Diabetes.
When the pancreas produces sufficient insulin, but the body cells do not respond to insulin, the sugar level in the blood rises and leads to a condition referred to as Type 2 Diabetes.
People with diabetes should take extra care of their feet. When sugar levels in the blood are not under control for a long period of time, it can affect the feet and cause further complications.
How does diabetes affect the feet?
Diabetes can affect the feet in many ways. It can cause blockage of arteries, diabetic neuropathy, weak bones, and Charcot's Foot.
Blockage of arteries
Diabetes can lead to thickening of the arteries; when arteries thicken, the passage through which the blood flows becomes partially blocked. The blockage disrupts the proper flow of blood through the arteries.
When the arteries that supply blood to the feet are blocked, they do not get a sufficient amount of blood supply to keep them healthy. In such a case, it takes a long time for the foot to heal when it is injured.
Germs can enter through cracks that develop on the skin due to dry skin or through an injury leading to infection and inflammation of the foot. If left untreated, this can lead to ulcers and foot sores.
Diabetic people can develop diabetic neuropathy. Diabetic neuropathy is a condition in which there is a loss of feeling in the feet. This loss of feeling is due to the damage to the nerves that occur when sugar levels in the blood are not under control over a period.
Thus, a diabetic person cannot feel any pain when the foot is injured and may leave the injury untreated. When this happens, the germs enter through the injured area and start infecting the foot.
When the injury is left untreated, the infection sets in through the injured area and spreads to the other parts of the feet.
Gangrene sets in when the infection is left untreated. Gangrene is a condition when the tissues die due to a lack of proper blood supply. In such a case, the feet may have to be amputated to prevent infection from spreading to other parts of the body in extreme cases.
People with diabetes must take proper care of their feet and check their feet regularly for minor cuts, cracks, and bruises.
Weakening of Bones
Diabetes can lead to bones becoming weak due to a lack of proper blood circulation. When the bones become weak, they become susceptible to fractures. A diabetic person is more prone to fractures than a person who is not affected by diabetes.
Charcot’s Foot is characterized by an initial redness, warmth, and swelling of the foot. Charcot’s Foot can occur in diabetic patients due to significant nerve damage (neuropathy). The bones become weak and are prone to fractures, and the joints may collapse, causing the foot to take an abnormal shape.
Diabetic Foot Care
- trim nails regularly to prevent ingrown toenails and thickening of the nails
- treat cuts and bruises immediately to prevent infection
- keep your feet clean and dry
- do not walk barefoot
- use a mirror to check for cracks, blisters, or cuts and treat immediately
- keep your feet hydrated, use foot creams that are specially made for diabetics
- wear comfortable footwear; the footwear should not be tight
- wear cotton socks that will absorb sweat from the feet and keep the feet dry
- wear footwear specially made for diabetics if you have a foot problem
- wear shoes with laces or Velcro or buckles that are adjustable
- wear shoes made of suede, leather, or canvas
- do not wear shoes with pointed or open toes
- check your feet with a doctor every once a year
- do not treat ingrown toenails, calluses, or corns by yourself
- do not use a hot or cold pack on your feet, as this will bruise the skin
The best way to prevent foot problems is to keep sugar levels under control by regularly exercising and following a healthy diet.
How to buy shoes
When buying shoes, remember that the shoe must have a shock-absorbing sole which will help relieve the pressure exerted on the foot's bottom, and the shoe should have a strong back to support your feet.
Shoes should be lightweight and made of a material that will allow your feet to breathe. They should match the shape of your feet and be a proper fit. The shoe should not be too tight or too loose to avoid blisters, sores, or calluses that can lead to further complications. If the shoes are worn out, replace them as soon as possible.
Try on shoes with socks so that you know the shoe fits properly with the socks on. Wear socks that do not constrict your feet and allows blood to circulate freely. The socks should be made from a material that can absorb moisture and keep the feet dry.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2012 Nithya Venkat
Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on December 12, 2016:
ChitrangadaSharan thank you for the return visit, much appreciated.
Bill Kasman thank you, it is scary to even think about limbs being amputated. Diabetes can be controlled and I hope anyone who suffers from diabetes take real good care of their overall health.
Bill Kasman on December 12, 2016:
This is a very good article. As someone who has worked in the care of the elderly field I have seen at first hand the damage this disease can cause to feet and lower limbs - including loss of limbs. Anyone who suffers from diabetes should take good care of their legs and feet.
Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on December 11, 2016:
Came back to read your very important article! Always a pleasure to read your wonderful hubs.
Thank you for sharing!
Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on March 24, 2014:
MG Singh thank you.
MG Singh from UAE on March 24, 2014:
Great post. Liked it
Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on March 24, 2014:
tsmog thank you for your valuable comments and taking the time to read. I hope all is well with you, wishing you the very best of health.
ChitrangadaSharan thank you for stopping by. Thanks for the vote and share too.
Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on March 24, 2014:
This is very useful and informative hub about how Diabetes affects feet and what care should be taken in this regard.
Voted up and shared on HP!
Tim Mitchell from Escondido, CA on March 24, 2014:
A great article Vellur. Being diabetic I share the information is very thorough. I also thank you for the awareness. I tend to read diabetes articles just to keep focus since as we grow older we forget and too get out of good habits. This article has value. Thank You!
Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on March 23, 2014:
vocal coach thank you for sharing information about the "orthaheel". I wish your father's leg could have been saved, I hope he is okay now. Take care. Thank you for stopping by and leaving a detailed comment. Thanks for the share too.
Audrey Hunt from Idyllwild Ca. on March 23, 2014:
I have had neuropathy for several years which I believe has caused my many falls. I found a wonderful shoe called "orthaheel" which has a wonder arch support and a fabulous heel cup. I swear by this brand.
The information you have provided here is so very important for those with diabetes. My father had a leg amputation because of ulcers on his feet. Thank you and sharing.
Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on December 03, 2012:
midget38 thank you for stopping by and reading.
Pamela99 many people with diabetes ignore their feet and some don't even know about it. Thank you for stopping by and your appreciative comments.
Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on December 03, 2012:
I have seen so many diabetic people with serious problems with their feet as a nurse. This is an excellent hub with very good information.
Michelle Liew from Singapore on December 03, 2012:
This will indeed be useful for those who suffer from the condition, Nithya. Thanks for sharing!
Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on April 14, 2012:
teaches12345 wearing breathable shoes is very important. Taking care of the feet is very important for diabetics. This will prevent any chances of amputation. Thank you for your vote too. Valued very much.
Dianna Mendez on April 13, 2012:
I now see how wearing breathable shoes does make a difference to a diabetic person. This must be a daily pratice for those with the disease. Your advice is valued. Voted up.