When you discovered that you had diabetes, you probably made a list of people you needed to support you and your new health needs. That list included folks like your primary care provider, a nutrition specialist, and maybe even a personal trainer — but a podiatrist was likely the last person you had in mind.
Many people don't realize that diabetes threatens your entire body, down to your toes, and that means you need a highly trained podiatrist you can count on.
Here, Dr. Kelly Geoghan and our team discuss what goes on with your feet when you have diabetes and how an expert podiatrist can help.
Diabetes is a condition that starts in your pancreas and goes on to affect almost every facet of your health and wellness. From head to toe, diabetes can lead to a wide range of health problems, including cognitive problems, mental health issues, heart disease, and even oral and vision health conditions.
It shouldn't surprise you then that diabetes can also harm your feet.
Diabetic foot problems stem primarily from the neurological and circulatory damage associated with the disease. Here's a closer look.
From your central nervous system (your brain and spinal cord) sprouts your peripheral nervous system, which reaches the furthest corners of your body. These nerves are responsible for helping you perceive and react to the world around you and controlling involuntary actions, such as your breathing and heart rate.
High sugar levels in your blood can lead to peripheral nerve damage (neuropathy), particularly in your feet. This often results in burning, tingling, and/or electrical sensations and numbness.
Foot numbness poses the greatest threat because it makes you less likely to detect a problem in your foot. For instance, you may not realize that you've cut your foot on a rock, stepped on a searing pavement and developed a blister, or stubbed your toe.
As a result, you may miss the warning signs of scrapes, cuts, and blisters, which can rapidly worsen if left untreated, turning into open wounds and infections.
Virtually anyone with diabetes can develop neuropathy, but you're most at risk if you identify with the following:
Having other health problems on top of diabetes, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol, also increases your chances of developing nerve damage.
Diabetes also attacks your blood vessels, narrowing them and restricting blood flow. With less blood flow, the healing process slows considerably, making it difficult to heal from a cut, scrape, or blister. In the most severe cases, a wound never heals, leading to tissue death called gangrene.
The threat diabetes poses to your feet looms so large you need more than a quick check from your primary care provider during checkups. You need an expert with a trained eye to catch the earliest signs of diabetic foot problems.
That's why we so strongly urge our patients with diabetes to make regular appointments with us. Dr. Geoghan focuses on preventive care through regular in-office visits, where she guides you through best practices to keep your feet in optimal health. We believe that overall health and wellness combined with education and prevention is the best way to keep complications at bay.
If you do experience numbness, difficulty healing, tingling, and other symptoms common to diabetic foot problems, we treat them quickly and with the most advanced, minimally invasive procedures.
Dr. Geoghan also performs limb-sparing procedures that minimize your risk of amputation, remove dead tissues, and help you heal as naturally as possible.
Your regular checkups with Dr. Geoghan are important — but what are you supposed to do between appointments? There are tons of simple healthy habits you can start today to support your foot health, including:
By far, the best thing you can do for your feet is to keep your diabetes under control and reduce the potential for complications.
If you'd like more information about diabetic foot care, the treatments we offer, and what you can do at home, don't hesitate to call our Lutherville, Maryland office at 410-753-4422 or use our online booking tool to request an appointment with Dr. Geoghan.