One day if you go out for a survey in the city, approaching the people passing by the street to learn whether they suffer from diabetes, at least seven out of ten people there shall say yes.
Indeed, that frequent is the health condition, diabetes!
But, what about a diabetic foot? A condition, where your nerves shrink to function normally due to high blood sugar levels in your body, in turn, leaving you with no sensation in the legs! Is such a clinical condition so frequent?
Perhaps, it is! Being a corollary condition of diabetes, a diabetic foot can no way be rare!
Statistics say that nearly 80% of leg amputation surgeries are conducted for eliminating a diabetic foot that is largely infected. And 50% of them who undergo such a surgery die within 5 years of it.
Now, you must be panic-stricken and tensed. Relax!
As frequent as this particular clinical condition, it is curable in most cases. On top of that, you can even get the scope of preventing it right at your home. Precisely, it is because a condition like a diabetic foot comes with clear red alerts or signs that will ask you to immediately call for a doctor.
Yeah, a lot of questions are likely to fill up your mind right now! What are the signs and symptoms, and how can you identify them? What are the causes behind the rise of such a health condition? What are the risk factors, playing a role backstage to stimulate a condition like a diabetic foot? Are there any ways to prevent it? If so, what are they?
And probably many more questions that I cannot think of at this very moment.
But, it is for sure that this article shall address them all. That is exactly why we are here to serve you with an encyclopedic note about the most frequent clinical problem, a diabetic foot!
So, let us not waste any more time and quickly dive into the detail.
In the very first place, learning about the signs stands essential. It is because these signs shall show you the next line of action when you or anyone in your family reflects on them. Read below to know what the signs are.
Can you see the red flags of a diabetic foot?
When diabetes affects you largely, it can damage the nerves over time. The following can make you lose all sensations in your feet. Therefore, if a needle or peddle goes in and gets stuck, you will not feel anything. It means that cuts, blisters, and sores in your feet can appear in the picture at any time. Well, like any other health condition, this clinical problem also shows red flags.
- Do you see any change in your skin color? Yeah, a darkened skin, somewhat like the patches of burn marks! It is a red flag, indicating a high blood glucose level for a prolonged period which has altered the pigmentation of your skin in the affected areas that, in this regard, are your feet. You have to consult a doctor thereupon.
- Do you witness any alteration in your skin temperature? Here, you can face two different conditions. One being fever and the other being chills. For either of the cases, consulting a doctor stands requisite. It is because insufficient insulin production does not let your cells absorb the glucose to convert it into energy. And thus, changes your skin temperature frequently.
- Is your foot or ankle swelling up? With an abnormal redness in the skin, if your feet or ankles get inflamed, it is not a positive backdrop at all. Apart from kidney, liver, or heart diseases, the red flags of a diabetic foot goes high up. It is time to call your physician and learn about the exact health condition along with its cure.
- Are you suffering from immense pain in your legs? A pain that hampers your sleep at night! A pain that refrains you from carrying out your daily works! Or maybe interrupting you while doing your exercises. It is a red flag. You are most probably suffering from a diabetic foot.
- Can you find any dry crack in the skin, especially in the areas around the heels? No doubt, dry cracks in the skin occur normally in winter when the weather dries up. Or when you wear open-heel footwear quite often. But, what if it is not a winter season and you do not wear open heel footwear yet have a dry crack in the heels? It is an alert! You may be having a diabetic foot.
- Do you face any abnormal foot odor which tends to stick by even though you wash your foot with different soaps daily? An unbearable or foul stink that catches your smell even from a long-distance! Look carefully if it is because of the shocks you wear all day round or maybe the extensive sweat that bothers you. If not, you are plausibly experiencing a health condition called a diabetic foot.
- Is there an open sore in your foot and that is taking a lot of time to heal? That’s right! Minor wounds like sores heal automatically. In this case, there is certainly an underlying cause to disrupt the normal skin conditions in your foot. And when these sores drain out pus, do not hesitate to call your doctor. It is a sign of diabetic neuropathy, where your foot loses all sensation.
- Are your toenails infected with fungus? Here, you will see your toenails appearing will a yellowish-brown texture alongside chronic tenderness. Sometimes, it also pops up as a white spot under the tip of your toenails. Furthermore, it creates difficulty while walking. This scenario can be a possible indication of a diabetic foot that you aren’t aware of.
- Can’t you feel hotness or coldness in your legs? Plausibly, a numbness covering your legs as if they have turned into a stone! But, if a cut occurs, blood shall come out, as it is! This diminished ability of not feeling anything in your legs, no matter what, reveals that you have an acute health deficit, volunteered by prolonged diabetes.
- Are you facing sudden hair loss in the legs? Of course, hair loss in your body can be a symptom of numerous health disorders, mostly the ones seeking dermatology care. Yet again, internal causes cannot be denied. Abrupt hair loss in the legs is a valid alert of conditions revolving around high blood glucose levels, particularly, a diabetic foot.
Now that you know when the red flags of a diabetic foot go up, you can look for them at home and stay cautious. Here again, staying cautious isn’t so easy, unless you know the root cause behind such an acute health condition.
It is what we are going to talk about next! So, hold on to the note and see what follows. You can hereafter glance through the risk factors of the most frequent clinical condition, diabetic feet.
What can be the root causes of a diabetic foot?
By now, you are aware that people having diabetes are more likely to develop a chronic foot problem in response to compromised insulin production. However, you are yet to discover the root causes that foster the emergence of such a health defect requiring immediate medical attention. Here they go!
Perhaps, extensive weight problem or obesity is one of the main drivers of a condition like a diabetic foot! How? By increasing the level of fatty acids in your body, an obese condition interferes in the production of insulin. And simultaneously, inflames your body structure, creating enormous pressure upon your feet.
Thus, the nerves in your feet cannot bear with it because of insufficient insulin. In turn, it deflates. That is when your feet get numb absolutely, and you do not feel anything at all.
Yes, high blood pressure or hypertension can pose a threat to your health by causing a diabetic foot. As you know, when the blood pressure takes its peak, your nervous system cannot function properly, therefore contracting down. And your feet, being the ultimate pressure point of your body, becomes vulnerable, leaving no sensitivity.
When the amount of waxy fat-like substances in your body cells called cholesterol gets high, the accumulation of it tends to clog the blood vessels in your feet. It means the blood flow to your feet shall stop as a setback.
Particularly, it is because of the fatty deposits in the blood vessels that do not let your blood pass. That is why your nerves get vandalized, and your feet have no susceptibility.
Continuous episodes of hyperglycemia
The carbohydrates you intake regularly breaks down into simple sugars within the bloodstream once it reaches your internal body. Undoubtedly, it is significant in producing energy particles, but sometimes, the functioning alters. A large amount of sugar in your blood acts as insulin resistance, curbing the normal hormonal processes.
The high blood sugar level is what medical science calls hyperglycemia. And the hormonal imbalance it creates can lead to a diabetic foot when continuing for a long span.
Personal history of heart or kidney diseases
If you ever had a heart or kidney problem previously but were able to cast that out through an efficient treatment, still be aware! Even though you are as fit as fiddle now, the chance of your body to develop health conditions like a diabetic foot is much higher than your counterparts who do not have a history of such health disorders.
Poor blood circulation
Certainly, the inadequacy of blood flow to your legs and feet can make you prone to health issues like a diabetic foot! Apart from the aforementioned conditions, arterial issues and varicose veins can also lead to the manifestation of poor blood circulation, inevitably causing foot problems like a diabetic foot.
That is not all!
There are other additional risk factors that you should note down here. They are as follows.
- Excessive alcohol consumption.
- Lack of proper hygiene.
- Smoking or intake of tobacco.
- Trimming nails inappropriately.
- Wearing poor-quality shoes.
Well, these risk factors can even lead to further complications if you do not nip it in the bud. Before doing so, why not glance through the various complications that are likely to arise from the health condition, diabetic foot?
In the next segment, you shall find exactly so!
Are there any further complications?
Neglecting the signs of diabetic feet can pave for further complications, obviously! At that time, the conditions get uncontrollable, and sometimes, they are even beyond any cure. Are you wondering what such health conditions can be? Look below!
Severe infections in the skin and bones
When the lack of sensitivity in your feet overshadows instances of peddles or rusted needles going inside your skin and staying there for long, infections are likely to grow and spread. Not just in the skin, but they may develop in your bones as well, getting more severe with the passage of time. On the same note, the damaged blood vessels and nerves weaken your immune system by default. Therefore, making the condition go worse!
During this particular condition, your tissues in the feet die out, precisely, due to the lack of oxygen. The oxygen can no longer reach your feet because of the cut of blood flow to those areas! Even bacterial infections that go unnoticed because of the lost sensation can cause such a condition, called gangrene. Well, this complex disorder may impact your leg muscles. Furthermore, leading to a blood infection, known as sepsis. A serious complication arising from a diabetic foot, indeed!
While the unnoticed sore in your feet during conditions like diabetic foot remains for long without any treatment, it oozes out pus. Pus that comprise white blood cells, dead tissues, and bacteria! Accumulation of pus coming with a foul smell solidifies into a tender mass or lump with surrounding areas of the mass, turning red or pink in color. That is when doctors state the health conditions as an abscess.
Also known as a boil, this definite health complexity appears because of the germs entering your body from the unnoticed sores. Also, it may arise in the skin or the internal organs and tissues. Whatsoever be the location of its residence, calling a doctor is a must.
Bunions are nothing but bony bumps. Yeah, bump that forms on the joint situated in the base of your big toe! They are ones arising from a diabetic foot and can further result in arthritis, particularly, when the joint in your big toe has sustained enormous pressure and long-term damages.
Likewise, the cartilage of your joint can also get weak, subsequently seeking surgery called a bunionectomy. Why give so much space to a clinical condition like a diabetic foot that can be eliminated much earlier?
It is another of the complications that a diabetic foot leads to. While your muscles in the foot get weak, the tendons towards your toe underlying the muscles get pulled abnormally. That is when the joint on your toe, instead of lying flat, undergoes a deformity. Precisely, it bends upward. Such is condition is known as hammertoes.
And in this case, your wounds in the feet, if any, shall take a lot of time to heal. In fact, you can even suffer from neurovascular injury when a condition like hammertoes gets acute. Certainly, it is because being untreated for a long span makes the joint fixed into that deformed position. Here, only surgery can rescue!
Well, condition like Charcot’s foot is very rare in nature. By affecting the joints, bones, soft tissues of your foot, or maybe the ankles, a Charcot’s foot takes the stage. It weakens the bones of your feet or ankles, and the joints are most likely to get dislocated. It can even break at times!
Besides, such a health issue can further cause peripheral neuropathy, especially for those already having diseases like diabetes mellitus. Do you know that it is sometimes called Charcot arthropathy? That’s right! The bone disintegration combined with inflammation can fall heavy upon you, similar to that of disorders like osteoarthritis.
We have already listed some of the complex deformities that a diabetic foot can trigger. But, that is not enough. There are other distinct deformities that your diabetic foot can pave for. For instance, claw feet, pes cavus, metatarsal head, and so forth. Prominently, these deformities can hamper your ability to walk or run and affect your regular activities.
How about shrugging them off with efficient diagnosis and cure? That is what you were waiting for so long, I suppose! The ways of eradicating the condition called diabetic foot!
Light falls on the remedy, right below.
Shedding light on the diagnosis and cure!
Once you reach out to the doctor for help, he or she will assess the signs and symptoms and confirm the exact condition through the process of diagnosis. The processes are varied, and their application differs from one healthcare provider to another. Whatsoever the process be, the remarkable advancement of medical science in the field of disease detection shall serve your purpose! Your doctor will understand whether you are suffering from a diabetic foot quite smoothly.
Some of the diagnostic procedures used for evaluating a diabetic foot are –
- Ultrasonography – Radiology doctors use ultrasound to assess the health disorders, and in this case, your diabetic foot. This particular technique helps fetch the images of your arterial segment. It is how the doctor can analyze the extent of the disease and proceed with the necessary treatment.
- Angiography – Such a diagnostic test is performed for patients with diabetic feet who are likely to suffer from complications like gangrene or Charcot’s foot. In this process, a combination of x-ray and a specific non-ionic contrast dye is used to examine the arteries and blood vessels of your feet.
- Computed tomography – This examination process, in short, known as CT scan, involves a series of x-rays connected to a computer for producing 3D images of your soft tissues. The method can render accurate imaging of osseous changes in your feet so that your doctor can carry out the perfect treatment for it.
- Bone scans – It is basically a nuclear imaging test to track your bones in the feet. And help locate the disorder. The images shall accurately reveal your diabetic foot for the doctor to take forward the process of treatment.
- Magnetic resonance imaging – For evaluating the severity of your diabetic foot, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) stands as a prominent method. Stats show that this test is one of the most common modalities in the assessment of a diabetic foot and its further complications like Charcot’s foot because of the high spatial resolution that the magnetic fields and radio waves offer for examining your foot in this regard.
- Radiography – As one of the most preferred first-line imaging tests of a diabetic foot, radiography is quite significant in demonstrating the internal conditions of your bone and soft tissue in the feet. It can clearly highlight the deformity that took place and therefore helps the doctor pursue the right treatment.
- Blood tests – Blood samples, including the HbA1c assessment, are another diagnostic technique to expose conditions like diabetic feet. In this procedure, the radiology doctor shall screen your white blood cells, C-reactive protein levels, and the erythrocyte sedimentation rate for understanding your foot defect accurately. Thus, the doctor can identify early abnormalities in your foot and subsequently help in the reduction of its associated morbidity.
- Ankle-brachial index and toe pressure – A non-invasive test is for screening your diabetic foot! This particular technique can determine your arterial perfusion in the feet, toes, and ankles by involving a Doppler device along with a sphygmomanometer. The latter helps observe the systolic pressure in your affected areas and compare it with the blood pressure in the other body parts.
- Pulse-volume recording – Also known as plethysmography, pulse volume recording is the diagnosis method enlisting the use of pneumatic cuffs in the feet, toes, or ankles to sense the pulse wave contour. Perhaps, an innovative technological advancement in the field of healthcare and wellness! Alongside, it helps check the segmental pressure to your feet when affected with conditions like a diabetic foot.
After the diagnosis is complete, your treatment procedure shall start. How?
Well, the treatment procedure comprises three distinct roles. They are debridement, offloading, and infection control. Too difficult to understand? Allow me to make it easier for you!
- Debridement is the process of removing all necrotic tissues, foreign elements that entered the viable tissues, and the peri-wound callus if any. This particular line of action is necessary for minimizing the further risk of infections. And for decreasing the pressure of peri-wound. Then, the areas shall be dressed with foams, hydrogel, or calcium alginates to prevent the affected area from getting contaminated.
- Offloading is the role of wiping out abnormal pressure points upon your foot. Further, promoting natural heal and simultaneously prevents recurrence. The main aim here is to redistribute the pressure evenly and avoid the detrimental force approaching your feet.
- Infection control is simply the way of preventing your tissues and underlying arteries from encountering harmful pathogens. In this regard, you will be given some antibiotics, either through an intravenous needle or by oral intake.
In the case of major complications or a prolonged period of a diabetic foot, the doctor can suggest you get hospitalized and undergo surgery that stops your wound from taking the course of amputation. However, people most often take up the path of surgical trials unnecessarily, without even having any complications. And as per the reports of a survey in India, such a facet contributes to an extension of the morbidity rate.
Think again! Why undergo a surgical process when you can prevent and curb it at home by taking up some basic foot cares?
Now, you must be thinking about what those home cares are. Yes, I will tell you what they are. Kindly see-through for that!
With basic care, prevent a diabetic foot at home!
Podiatrists, the doctors specializing in the medical care of feet, suggest some foot cares for the management of a condition like a diabetic foot. At the same time, they also show us the way to prevent a diabetic foot right at home. What do want to see first? The ways of prevention? Preferably, yes, as it is always better than cure!
The ways of preventing a diabetic foot are –
- Try to avoid walking around barefoot all the time. A covered shoe or a normal slipper can help.
- Do not indulge in wearing tight shocks and shoes just out of trend or fashion as your one mistake can fall heavy upon your health.
- Wash your feet with warm water every day and dry them up thoroughly. And please do not forget to clean in between the toes and fingers. The warm water shall kill all germs and keep your feet on point. After that, you can apply some lotion to your feet. Alert! Do not apply the lotion in between the toes as it may pile up there and cause infection.
- Try being gentle while washing your feet. You can use a sponge or soft washcloths in this context.
- You have to protect the feet from either of the extreme temperatures. And at the same time, undergo activities that keep your blood flow to the feet static. For example, walking or swimming.
- Trim and file your toenails properly. Try cutting them straight across!
- Remember that it is not your job to cut corns or calluses. If you have any, consult a podiatrist.
- If you feel cold at night, try wearing socks, but never try to use any kind of hot water bottle or a heating pad. It can damage your nerves more by creating extra pressure.
- You can undertake periodic foot exams to look for any changes.
- Above all, keep your blood glucose level under control by avoiding food that triggers it. Also, try to quit smoking as it actively restricts blood flow to your feet.
After prevention, if you are yet caught with a diabetic foot, the cure is the only option left. Thereupon, you have to follow some steps and get a sigh of relief straightaway at your home!
- Doctors advise pursuing a foot bath daily when you are diagnosed with a diabetic foot.
- If you have a sore or cut, clean the sound with disinfectant, and in the scenario of pus or fluid-filled sores, drain them out but do not insert nails on it since your nails may carry infectious pathogens. Then you have to apply a special bandage and ointment. The ointment shall help absorb the extra fluid and enhance the process of healing.
- You can also take up an enzyme treatment.
- It is always better to wear an immobilization device like a total contact cast or cast boot. There are, in fact, various shoes designed exclusively for a diabetes patient to prevent and equally get rid of conditions like a diabetic foot.
So, do you feel prepared enough to combat a diabetic foot now? Can you prevent such a condition by following these home cares and nipping it in the bud? Can you seek a diagnosis and treatment right when you realize the condition at its early stage?
Here we conclude today with our encyclopedic note on the most common clinical condition revolving around diabetes! The condition, diabetic foot! If you want to book an appointment with a podiatrist in Chandigarh, feel free to contact us. Even for basic foot care tips, you can schedule an online appointment with us.
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