8 Most Common Diabetic Foot Complications and How to Avoid Them

People with diabetes are at risk of complications, including heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease. Some of the most serious complications affect feet.

8 Most Common Diabetic Foot Complications and How to Avoid Them

People with diabetes are at risk of developing a variety of complications, including heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease. Some of the most serious complications from diabetes can affect the feet. The good news is that the risk of complication can be reduced with proper care. In this blog post, we discuss the 8 most common diabetic foot complications you should know about so you can take preventative measures to avoid them.

1. Neuropathy

Increased blood sugar levels damage nerve endings in your extremities. As nerves in the feet lose function, your ability to sense pain diminishes. This increases the risk for ulcers, cuts, bruises, or other injuries that could become serious without treatment.

2. Skin Dryness

The nerve damage caused by diabetes can limit the body's ability to effectively control skin moisture and oil levels. The resulting dryness may lead to more frequent cracking, peeling, creating a risk of infection. To ensure that your skin is properly moisturized, apply lotion regularly to your body and feet, particularly after taking showers or baths.

3. Calluses

Calluses tend to form more frequently on the feet of patients with diabetes. Use well-fitting, supportive footwear to reduce the risk of callus formation. Do not attempt to trim calluses yourself; ask your doctor to cut or otherwise remove them during your regular medical appointments.

4. Poor Circulation

The elevated blood sugar levels common in people with diabetes lead to reduced blood flow over time, as deposits build up inside blood vessels and their walls harden. Cold or numb feet are an indication that your extremities are suffering from poor circulation. Your doctor can measure the blood flow in your feet as part of their regular exam to help identify circulatory issues early. Regular exercise, in line with the level of activity recommended by your doctor, and wearing properly-fitting footwear and socks can help maintain or improve circulation over time.

5. Infection and Abscesses

Skin dryness and poor circulation in the extremities increase the risk of skin infections. Similarly, neuropathy increases the risk of cuts or other injuries that, if undetected or untreated, can lead to infections under the skin. Such infections can be difficult to treat because patients often don't experience symptoms until the problem has progressed significantly, in some cases leading infections to affect tendons and bones or to cause abscesses, in which inflamed tissue degenerates and leads to pus build-up. To help prevent infections, inspect your feet daily. Wash wounds or cuts promptly if they become swollen, red, painful, or warm. Cover open sores with clean dressings that will not irritate them, and apply antibiotic ointment as soon as possible after injuries occur.

6. Foot Deformities

The ongoing symptoms of diabetes and infections can lead to the weakening of muscles, tendons, and bones, threatening the structure of the foot. This can result in deformities like Charcot, hammertoes, and claw feet. Proper fitting, supportive footwear, daily foot inspections, and regular doctors' visits are your best options for reducing your risk of foot deformities.

7. Foot Ulcers

Ulcers, open wounds that recur or do not heal, are common in patients with neuropathy and usually develop as a result of injuries that go undetected. Most foot ulcers occur on the bottom of the feet. Untreated ulcers can lead to infection and gangrene, in which the tissue surrounding the wound dies due to insufficient blood flow. Careful daily inspection of your feet is key to catching developing ulcers in a timely manner, along with monitoring foot temperature, and regular doctors visits.

8. Amputation

If ulcers, infections, or abscesses are not caught and treated in a timely fashion, it may not be possible for the affected area to heal and therefore require the foot to be amputated. According to research studies, approximately 20% of diabetic foot infections result in amputation, making this one of the most serious diabetic foot complications. 50% of amputees lose their other leg within two years, and 80% of amputees pass away within five years.

Reducing Your Risks

The best way to protect yourself against diabetic foot complications is to make sure that you use well-fitting, supportive footwear at all times, diligently check your feet for signs of injury, and visit your doctor regularly. In addition, Siren Socks, smart socks that measure your foot temperature, can help you and your provider catch potential issues with your feet before they develop into serious injuries.

About Siren Socks

Siren Socks are smart socks that help detect potential issues with your feet. Siren Socks are an FDA-registered Class I medical device and are designed for people living with diabetes and neuropathy. The socks measure your foot temperature. Temperature monitoring has been shown to help reduce the number of diabetic foot ulcers in multiple clinical studies over the past 20 years and is considered the gold standard in diabetic foot care. The information from the socks is monitored by licensed nurses who contact you regularly to check on your health and the status of your feet. Your doctor reviews any issues that arise and determine if a clinic visit is necessary. Siren Socks are covered by Medicare, Medicare Advantage, and many private insurance plans. Interested patients can find a Certified Siren Provider near them and begin the enrollment process by clickinghere.

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