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What are the Different Potential Diabetic Foot Problems?

By Angela Crout-Mitchell
Updated May 17, 2024
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Patients with diabetes often experience foot problems such as chronic pain, slow healing infections, and swelling. These diabetic foot problems can stem from nerve damage, poor blood and oxygen circulation, and any trauma to the foot. There are several options to correct the problems such as wearing proper shoes and socks, taking care of common foot infections like athlete's foot, and daily visual checks to ensure there are no budding diabetic foot problems. When the symptoms of diabetes are well managed, potential problems with the feet are less likely to occur. For the overall health of the patient, medical professionals work closely with their patients in an attempt to keep blood sugar levels in the normal range and also monitor risks such as eye and foot problems.

People who have poorly controlled or long term diabetes very often develop nerve damage which can lead to diabetic foot problems. This nerve damage limits the sensation the affected person has of his or her feet. Foot injury can be the result of badly fitted shoes, unusual standing or walking foot and leg positions, and walking barefoot. Common foot ailments such as sores, calluses, and blisters are frequently unnoticed by the patient and may lead to serious infections if not treated quickly. For this reason, diabetes patients are encouraged to examine their feet daily to reduce the likelihood of infection from minor irritations.

Poor circulation is another factor that may lead to diabetic foot problems when the disease is badly controlled. In order for tissues of the body to heal properly, the area must have an adequate supply of blood and oxygen. Poor circulation, especially in the feet, is common for diabetics. This condition, known as atherosclerosis, prohibits normal blood flow essential to the healing process.

Any type of normal trauma to the feet, such as ingrown toenails, athlete's foot, and other fungal infections are all breeding grounds for diabetic foot problems. The patient should seek medical attention quickly for any symptoms of even minor foot trauma. Some diabetes patients make the mistake of waiting too long seeing their doctor as they believe the infection or injury is not serious enough to warrant a visit. Common symptoms of a foot infection entering dangerous territory are breaks in the skin that are slow to heal, the appearance of pus, swelling of the foot and leg, and red streaks moving away from the infection up the leg. Untreated injuries and infections can lead to serious medical consequences, such as loss of the affected appendage.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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