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What Is the Relationship between Podiatry and Diabetes?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 17, 2024
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The connection between podiatry and diabetes is an important one, as proper foot care can help diabetic patients avoid serious limb injury or loss. Podiatrists specialize in caring for the feet; some may pursue fellowships specifically in diabetic foot care so they can offer the best possible treatment and recommendations to their patients. This level of care can improve patient outcomes by catching problems at an early stage and providing access to aggressive and appropriate treatment. Diabetic patients may want to consider including a specialist of this nature on their care teams.

One of the most common complications of diabetes is circulatory system problems caused by the elevated blood sugar associated with the disease. The feet are at particular risk because they are so far from the heart, making podiatry and diabetes a particular concern. Poor circulation can cause ischemia, where oxygen deprivation damages or kills tissue. This can lead to painful ulceration of the feet and may eventually necessitate a limb amputation in cases where the foot is not salvageable.

In addition, patients can develop peripheral neuropathy, where nerves are damaged by the diabetes. This can cause tingling and pain, followed by numbness, which may make it harder for patients to sense injuries and seek treatment for them. Being aware of the link between podiatry and diabetes allows a patient to attend regular appointments to check on foot and lower leg health, which can help identify nerve problems as well as ischemia as early as possible.

Practitioners with an interest in the podiatry and diabetes connection don’t stop with early diagnosis and treatment. They are also involved in preventative care, which can include patient education on how to protect the feet and lower extremities, as well as specialized footwear and other diabetic foot care supplies. Educated patients with the right tools can prevent foot and lower extremity problems both by controlling their diabetes effectively and taking some simple steps to care for the feet.

Newly-diagnosed diabetic patients may be encouraged to meet with a doctor to discuss the podiatry and diabetes link, so they can start taking precautions early. Patients with diabetes who aren’t reporting regular visits to a podiatrist for foot evaluations may be advised to consider this as an adjunct to their diabetes care. Early prevention and intervention can radically reduce the risk of mobility problems associated with damage to the feet and lower legs, and can also improve quality of life for the patient.

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.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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