Attention Diabetic Patients: Healthy Habits to Prevent Foot Ulcers
Bay Area Foot Care participates in the education of our future podiatrists. Below read a feature from one of our third year students as she outlines the importance of creating healthy habits to prevent foot ulcers.
Foot ulcers can be a very scary life altering event. There are different classifications of foot ulcers that present differently as a result of various ailments. There are 4 types of chronic foot and leg ulcers which include: neuropathic, venous, pressure, and arterial. Neuropathic ulcers, also known as diabetic foot ulcers, are very common especially in individuals who have long standing diabetes. There are preventative measures one can take to help prevent these types of ulcers and that includes healthy habits one can adopt to live a healthier active life!
Neuropathy, is defined as a disease or dysfunction of the nerves that can lead to numbness, burning, or tingling sensations. Many factors can play a role in causing neuropathy however, long standing diabetes has been shown to lead to neuropathy. This becomes dangerous when an individual eventually loses all sensation to his/her feet. This can lead to injuries and open wounds that are not felt by the individual and the wounds are not properly cared for can lead to contamination, infection, and amputations. With the help of the right support from family and a healthcare team one can start living a healthier lifestyle!
These 5 healthy habits can help prevent neuropathic ulcers.
- Control your Diabetes: Failure to control sugar levels in the body can lead to too much sugar in the blood stream which eventually causes damage to the nerves. Controlling one’s diabetes with diet and exercise can help reduce the progression of neuropathy. This is where your health care team comes into handy. Start by formulating a proper meal plan that includes foods with more fiber, choosing foods such as vegetables and fruits and drinking water instead of juice or soda.
- Get Active: Studies have shown that exercise and activity can help lower blood sugar levels. During activity, your cells will take up glucose for energy. Being active on a regular basis can lower blood glucose levels.
- Quit smoking: I’m sure you’ve heard many times that smoking has many negative effects on the body. One study showed that cigarette smoking diabetic patients underwent more amputations than those who did not smoke. Smoking is known to increase the risk of arterial disease which contributes to poor wound healing. This can lead to poor surgical healing in many instances delaying recovery.
- Therapeutic shoes: Footwear is a key component in preventing ulcers. If there is friction or shear present due to poor footwear it can eventually lead to an open wound that may not properly heal. Pay attention to callus build up which indicates that there is abnormal pressure being placed in that area during activity. Ask your podiatrist for the best custom offloading shoe gear for you. One study showed that patients who wore their custom shoes daily were significantly less likely to have a reulceration form compared to patients who did not wear custom footwear. Wearing the proper footwear really does go a long way!
- Visit Your Podiatrist: Annual foot examinations are recommended for all individuals with diabetes to identify high-risk foot conditions including circulation disorders, structural foot deformities, and loss of sensation. Specific interventions are made available and have been shown to be effective in reducing an individual’s amputation risk.
- Diligent foot care: Last but not least, make sure you are examining your feet daily checking for any, blisters, calluses, cracks, open lesions, redness, or abnormalities. If you are unable to look at the bottom of your feet, try using a mirror or help from family members. Make sure to wash your feet daily, drying them carefully especially between your toes.
You only live one life, so live it to your highest potential!