Diabetes foot and ankle problems
Foot problems are a leading cause of hospitalization for diabetics. It is estimated that 15% of all diabetics will develop a serious foot condition at some time in their lives. Common problems include infection, ulceration, or gangrene that may lead, in severe cases, to amputation of a toe, foot or leg.
Most of these problems are preventable through proper care and regular visits to your podiatric surgeon. This physician can provide information on foot inspection and care, proper footwear, and early recognition and treatment of foot conditions.
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Ulceration (a break in the skin) is a common occurrence with the diabetic foot, and should be carefully treated and monitored by a podiatrist to avoid amputations. Poorly fitted shoes, or something as trivial as a stocking seam, can create a wound that may not be felt by a diabetic. Left unattended, such ulcers can quickly become infected and lead to more serious consequences. Your podiatric physician knows how to treat and prevent these wounds and can be an important factor in keeping your feet healthy and strong.
New to the science of wound healing are remarkable products and surgical techniques that have greatly improved the healing success of diabetic foot and ankle ulcers.
Diabetics ability to detect sensations or vibration may be diminished. Neuropathy allows injuries to remain unnoticed and untreated for lengthy periods of time. It may cause burning or sharp pains in feet and interfere with your sleep. Ironically, painful neuropathy may occur in combination with a loss of sensation. Neuropathy can also affect the nerves that supply the muscles in your feet and legs. This 'motor neuropathy' can cause muscle weakness or loss of tone in the thighs, legs, and feet, and the development of hammertoes, bunions, and other foot deformities.
Serious deformities can quickly occur in diabetics with neuropathy and very good circulation. A Charcot joint, resulting from trauma to the insensitive foot, causes the foot to collapse and widen. This destructive condition is often first heralded by persistent swelling and redness, mild to moderate aching, and an inability to fit into your usual shoes. If this occurs, it is important to stay off the foot and see your podiatric surgeon immediately.