Non-surgical treatments for diabetes-related foot problems include splinting, casting, or bracing to correct bone deformities. Your doctor can recommend proper footwear to provide structure and improve blood circulation. This may include a custom-walking boot. Your doctor can also provide medications or treatments for infections and skin ulcers.
SurgeryThe main goal of treatment is to improve the integrity of the foot and reduce the risk of surgery and amputation. Surgery is considered for deformities that are too severe for a brace or shoe. Surgery may also be required to resolve advanced skin ulcers. In extreme cases, surgical amputation of the toes, foot, or leg is required to prevent further health problems and protect the remaining limb.
RecoveryRecovery from diabetes-related foot problems is different for everyone. It depends on the type of problem you experienced and the type of treatment you received. Because diabetes-related foot problems can be progressive, it is extremely important that you reduce your risk of complications and amputation by following preventive measures.
PreventionThe following are tips to help prevent diabetes-related foot problems:
• Monitor your blood glucose levels carefully, eat a balanced diet, and exercise regularly. See a physician regularly to prevent and stay on top of any problems that might develop.
• Inspect your feet daily. Examine your feet for redness, warmth, blisters, ulcers, scratches, cuts, and nail problems. Feel for hard or dry skin. Look at the bottoms of your feet and between your toes. Use a mirror or have someone else look for you to check the bottom of your feet for redness or cracking.
• Examine the inside of your shoes for foreign objects, protruding nails, and rough spots before putting them on.
• Have custom-molded orthotics or shoes made by a foot specialist. The special footwear can help prevent ulcerations and infections in the feet.
• Buy shoes late in the day and never buy shoes that need "breaking in." Shoes should be comfortable the minute you put them on. Select shoes with deep toe boxes and made of leather upper material. Do not wear new shoes for more than two hours at a time and do not wear the same shoes every day.
• Contact your foot doctor immediately if you experience ANY injury to your foot or if you notice any changes in your feet. Even a minor injury is important for a person with diabetes.
• Do not file down, shave or remove calluses or corns yourself. This should ONLY be done by a foot specialist.
• DO NOT SMOKE! It decreases the blood supply to your feet. • Ask your doctor about precautions for soaking your feet.
• Do not trim your own toenails. Your foot specialist should do this.
• Do not use any strong antiseptic solutions on your feet. Iodine, salicylic acid, and corn or callus removers can be dangerous.
• Do not wear socks or stockings with tight elastic backs and never use garters. Do not wear any socks with holes and always wear shoes with socks.
• You should never use any type of sticky product such as tape or corn plasters on your feet. They can tear your skin.
• In the winter, wear warm socks and protective footwear. Avoid getting your feet wet in the snow and rain and avoid letting your toes get cold.
• Keep feet away from heat--hot water bottles, heating blankets, radiators, and heating pads. Burns can occur without your knowledge. Water temperature should always be less than 92 degrees. Estimate the water temperature with your elbow or bath thermometer.
• Lubricate your entire foot if your skin is dry but avoid putting cream between your toes.
• NEVER walk barefoot.