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What is Diabetic Foot?
Diabetic Foot Defined
The diabetic foot is a complex problem that presents as a result of having diabetes mellitus (high blood sugar). When people have prolonged periods of high blood sugar, multiple problems in the foot may occur. Diabetic neuropathy (loss of feeling in the feet) and peripheral artery disease (poor blood supply to the foot) are the two most common problems. These can lead to serious complications.
Diabetic Foot Symptoms and Anatomy
Symptoms in the feet usually vary from person to person, depending on the specific issue the patient may be experiencing. Typical symptoms, however, include numbness or tingling, loss of feeling, blistering, dry peeling skin, open wounds with drainage, skin discoloration and temperature changes.
Infection can occur which can lead to redness over the foot and leg, fever and chills, shaking and uncontrollable blood sugar levels. These symptoms warrant immediate attention by a doctor.
The diabetic patient should see his doctor twice a year for routine maintenance. This is the key to avoiding most complications. These problems include non-healing ulcers, skin and bone infection, gangrene, foot deformity and Charcot foot (abnormally shaped foot from neuropathy).
Diabetic Foot Treatment
Nonsurgical and surgical treatments are available to patients. Nonsurgical remedies include good blood sugar maintenance, orthotic and shoe management, casting and annual evaluation for good blood supply. The patient should check their feet daily, wash, wear supportive shoes and socks, avoid extreme temperatures, keep nails trimmed (by a professional) and avoid smoking which diminishes blood supply.
Diabetic Foot Surgery
When surgery is needed it consists of stabilization of foot deformities, arterial bypass surgeries, removal of decaying tissue or sometimes amputation of parts that cannot otherwise be saved.
Learn more about the Foot and Ankle Center at Resurgens Orthopaedics.