JOPLIN, MO – The diabetes epidemic has reached more than 30 million Americans to date, and complications in the feet send more people to the hospital than any other complication. The good news: Experts agree that it’s possible to prevent these complications and avoid some of the most serious risks of diabetes, including lower limb amputation.
“Regular and vigilant foot care can help catch problems before they turn into a health crisis,” said Shelly D. Sedberry, MS, DPM, AACFAS, a podiatrist at Shoal Creek Foot & Ankle Center and a member of the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA). “Care for diabetes starts at home with daily foot exams. People with diabetes should also schedule an annual visit with a podiatrist.”
“Perhaps one of the most frightening aspect of diabetes is that it damages nerves, meaning patients are unable to feel pain when they injure themselves or develop a blister or sore,” Dr. Sedberry said. “These injuries can turn into ulcers, essentially open wounds on the feet, and can develop serious infections. Unfortunately, diabetic ulcers often lead to amputation.”
With this in mind – as physicians, surgeons, and specialists – podiatrists recommend the following steps for preventive diabetes care:
- An annual foot exam. Specially trained to treat conditions of the foot and ankle that are caused by diabetes, a podiatrist can help prevent complications before they happen.
- Daily self-exams. Check your feet every day for cuts, bruises, sores, or changes to the toenails, such as thickening or discoloration. If you notice a change, make an appointment to see your podiatrist immediately.
- Professional foot care. Never try to treat calluses, ingrown toenails, or other foot conditions on your own. Home treatment is especially risky for people with diabetes, who could develop dangerous infections.
- Comfortable, well-fitting footwear. Podiatrists recommend against going barefoot because of the high risk of injuring yourself without being aware of it. Wear well-fitting shoes and socks to protect your feet.
- A team approach. A podiatrist will collaborate with your primary care physician and other specialists to establish the right approach for your individual needs. Podiatrists can provide a wide range of treatments, from conservative care of the skin and nails to surgical options for advanced wounds or complications involving the bones of your feet. You, your podiatrist, and your care team will determine what’s right for you.
“Today’s podiatrist understands that no single case of diabetes is the same as another,” Dr. Sedberry said. “Our care must be with the patient’s specific needs top of mind. Together, we can manage your diabetes and help you maintain an outstanding quality of life.”
Shelly D. Sedberry, MS, DPM, AACFAS, is a podiatrist at Shoal Creek Foot & Ankle Center in Joplin, MO. Call (417) 622-0648 or visit www.shoalcreekfac.com to schedule an appointment. Office hours are Monday through Friday, 8:00am to 5:00pm. Wednesday evening and Saturday morning appointments are available. _