Diabetic feet need special care because of decreased circulation, neuropathy, joint deterioration, and more. While your primary care physician may guide you on blood sugar control, medications, a healthy diet, and active lifestyle, your podiatrist assesses and treats how your feet and ankles function everyday and for the long term. Enlist their help in the health maintenance of your diabetic feet.
Keeping ahead of neuropathy and avoiding amputation
Those are two key goals of diabetic foot care. Your podiatrist will want to see you regularly to assess the color, temperature, sensation, function, and shape of your feet and ankles, noting any developing problems. Early detection of circulation issues, nerve degeneration (neuropathy), and deformities, such as hammertoes, bunions, and Charcot Foot, are key.
Your podiatric foot examination will include an eye-on inspection of your skin (color, temperature, texture, and integrity). Your foot doctor also may perform gait analysis to watch for changes in how you walk. Sometimes a podiatrist orders X-ray imaging or an MRI to view the internal structure of the foot and/or ankle.
Remember, that foot ulcers are the primary threat to the overall health and well-being of the diabetic, says the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI). Untreated, they may lead to complications so severe amputation is the only option.
What can you do to treat your diabetic feet?
- Be proactive. Inspect your feet daily, looking redness or skin breakdown.
- Wash and dry your feet daily.
- Trim your toenails carefully using a clean clippers. Trim straight across and not too short to avoid ingrown toenails.
- Wear shoes at all times--even indoors--to avoid injury.
- Wear clean, well-fitting, moisture-wicking socks.
- Keep your weight and blood sugars within normal range.
- Get in-office treatment of calluses and corns, says the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons.
- Avoid all forms of tobacco.
- Report any changes to your foot doctor as soon as possible.
- See your podiatrist every six months or as he or she directs.
Healthy feet and a healthy you
Podiatric health is so important, but especially to the diabetic. So stay in touch with your foot doctor, and be routinized in your foot care for better long-term health.
A bunion is one of the most common foot deformities, often affecting the joint at the base of the big toe. Anyone can develop this painful condition but it most often occurs in women. A bunion affects the structure of the foot, causing the joint to become enlarged, which causes the big toe to lean inward towards the other toes. In some cases, the big toe even overlaps the toes. This deformed joint may often become red or swollen, especially when wearing certain shoes or after certain physical activities.
A bunion is a gradual deformity, which means that as soon as you begin to notice changes in the joint or you start to experience symptoms you should consult a podiatrist. While the only way to correct the deformity is through surgery this is usually the last treatment option. After all, a foot doctor can often create a treatment plan that will reduce pain and prevent the deformity from progressing without needing to turn to surgery.
The first course of treatment is usually more conservative. You may be able to manage your bunion pain and swelling by:
- Taking over-the-counter NSAIDs
- Icing the bunion for up to 15 minutes at a time, 2-3 times a day
- Placing orthotics into your shoes to alleviate pressure on the joint (talk to your podiatrist about creating custom orthotics)
- Splinting or taping the foot to improve the structural alignment
- Wearing appropriate and supportive footwear that doesn’t put pressure on the toes or bunion
- Applying a bunion pad over the area to prevent a callus from forming while wearing shoes
- Avoiding certain activities and sports that could exacerbate your condition
For many people, these lifestyle changes and simple at-home treatment options are all that’s needed to reduce bunion pain and discomfort, and to prevent the problem from getting worse. Of course, if you find that at-home care isn’t providing you with relief, or if bunion pain is persistent or severe, then you should turn to a podiatrist for an evaluation. Not sure if you have a bunion or not? Call your foot doctor.
When should someone consider bunion surgery?
As we mentioned earlier, bunion surgery is considered a last resort when all other treatment options have been exhausted and they haven’t helped get your bunion symptoms under control. You may also want to consider getting bunion surgery if:
- Your bunion is large and makes it difficult to wear shoes
- Your bunion pain is severe and chronic
- You have trouble walking or moving around because of your bunion
- Your bunion is affecting your quality of life
It can take up to 6 months to fully recover from traditional bunion surgery so it’s important to discuss all of your treatment options with your podiatrist to find the most effective method for getting your bunion symptoms under control.
- Plantar fasciitis
- Achilles tendinitis
- Heel pain
- Ankle sprains and fractures
- Foot fractures
- Sports-related injuries
- Bunions and hammertoes
- Corns and calluses
- Diabetic foot care
- Fungal infections
- Ingrown toenails
- Heel spurs
Understanding Heel Pain with Help from Your Podiatrist
- Wear shoes that fit well
- Wear proper shoes for each activity
- Do not wear shoes with excessive wear on heels or soles
- Prepare properly before exercising by stretching and warming up
- Pace yourself when you participate in athletic activities
- Don’t underestimate your body’s need for rest and good nutrition
- Lose excess weight
Heel pain is one of the most common complaints a podiatrist hears about from patients. If you are dealing with heel pain above the heel bone then you could be dealing with Achilles Tendonitis, a result of overuse. The Achilles tendon is the longest tendon in the body and it serves to connect the muscles of the calf with the lower leg and heel bone.
While Achilles Tendonitis tends to occur most often in runners, this condition can still occur in athletes that play certain sports such as soccer or tennis. Unfortunately, this tendon does weaken as we get older, which makes at an increased risk for developing this overuse injury as we age.
What are the symptoms of Achilles Tendonitis?
The most obvious symptom of Achilles Tendonitis is pain above the heel bone. When the pain first appears it’s usually pretty mild and you may only notice it after running; however, over time you may notice that the pain gets worse after certain exercises. Along with pain you may also experience stiffness or tenderness in the heel, especially in the morning or after long periods of sitting.
When should I see a podiatrist?
If this is the first time that you’ve ever experienced heel pain then it’s a good idea to turn to a foot doctor who can determine whether Achilles Tendonitis is causing your symptoms or whether it’s something else. If you’re experiencing chronic heel pain around the Achilles tendon it’s also a good time to see a doctor. If the pain is severe or you are unable to put weight on your foot it’s possible that you might be dealing with a ruptured tendon, which requires immediate attention.
How do you treat Achilles Tendonitis?
In most cases, Achilles Tendonitis can be treated with simple self-care options. Unless symptoms are severe you may be able to treat your heel pain by:
- Taking over-the-counter pain medications
- Avoiding high-impact activities or activities that exacerbate symptoms
- Elevating the foot to reduce swelling
- Performing stretching exercises or undergoing physical therapy
- Icing the heel
- Wearing custom orthotics
- Replacing worn-out shoes, especially running shoes
Surgery is only necessary if your symptoms aren’t responding to any other nonsurgical treatment options after several months or if the tendon is torn.
If you think your heel pain could be the result of Achilles Tendonitis then it’s time to turn to a podiatrist as soon as possible. A podiatrist can provide you with a variety of treatment options, from simple lifestyle modifications to custom orthotics.
This website includes materials that are protected by copyright, or other proprietary rights. Transmission or reproduction of protected items beyond that allowed by fair use, as defined in the copyright laws, requires the written permission of the copyright owners.