Diabetes is an increasingly common condition that can have a serious impact on your health. Not only does it lead to an increased risk for heart attack, stroke, nerve damage, kidney failure and blindness, but it also creates a greater risk of developing diabetic ulcers, which may result in amputation if not properly managed.
“Diabetic ulcers most often occur on an individual’s toes or on the balls of their feet,” says Padma Narra, M.D., a board-certified specialist in family medicine who sees patients at PrimeCare Clinic in Columbia. “These ulcers are typically characterized by new or unusual swelling, redness, discharge, discoloration and pain.”
Due to diabetic neuropathy (nerve damage in the legs or feet that can lead to numbness), these wounds can often go unnoticed and, therefore, untreated. If one of these wounds is not healing and then gets infected, it can lead to a greater risk for limb amputation to prevent the infection from spreading to the rest of the body.
“Early detection and treatment of wounds is a crucial component of lowering your risk for amputation and improving your overall quality of life,” Dr. Narra says. “However, preventive action to keep wounds from developing in the first place is also key.”
According to Dr. Narra, four common tips for healthier feet include:
- Making (and keeping) regular appointments with your doctor. This will help to ensure you are on track with managing your diabetes and any other health conditions. Regular appointments also provide an opportunity to address potential concerns.
- Checking your feet frequently for any noticeable cuts, sores, swelling or other changes. Wound care experts recommend individuals with diabetes thoroughly examine their feet at least once per day. If you notice any of these changes, it’s important to talk with your doctor and seek care right away.
- Taking care of your feet. It’s important to wear shoes that fit well, wash and moisturize your feet every day and refrain from walking barefoot outside. When wearing new shoes, break them in slowly to avoid developing blisters.
- Making healthy lifestyle choices like following an eating plan, staying physically active, quitting smoking and taking all medications as prescribed by your doctor.
For those coping with non-healing wounds, treatment is available. The multidisciplinary team at the Maury Regional Wound Center in Columbia works with patients and their doctors to monitor, manage and treat non-healing wounds resulting from diabetes, vascular conditions, radiation therapy, trauma and infection. Learn more at MauryRegional.com/Wound-Care.
Padma Narra, M.D.,
is a board-certified specialist in family medicine associated with Maury Regional Medical Group. Dr. Narra sees patients at PrimeCare Clinic, which is located in the Maury Regional Medical Plaza (Suite 403) at 854 West James Campbell Blvd. in Columbia, Tennessee.