Diabetes: Check Your Feet!

017Diabetes: Check Your Feet!

Thomas A. LeBeau

St. Augustine Foot and Ankle

When you have diabetes, you need to examine your feet every day. Be sure to look at all areas of your feet, including your toes. It may be helpful to use a handheld mirror or a magnifying mirror attached to the bathroom wall near the baseboard to inspect your feet. If you can’t see well, have someone else use this Diabetes Foot Checklist to examine your feet for you. Using this Diabetes Foot Checklist helps you remember to examine all areas of your feet.

Diabetes Foot Checklist
Check your feet for: What to do if you notice a problem
Skin color:

·         Red

·         Blue or black

·         Redness could point to irritation from shoes, overheating or other early signs of a problem. Do what you can to discover the cause so you can fix it, such as wearing shoes that fit better.

·         Blue or black areas can mean bruising or blood flow problems. Call your doctor to report them.

Patches where hair is missing Bald patches may mean irritation from shoes or a blood flow problem. Show the areas to your doctor during your next visit.
Blister ·         Try to discover the cause of the blister. Friction or rubbing against your skin causes blisters. You may need new shoes.

·         Do not break the blister or open it yourself. Leave the skin over the blister intact.

·         Cover the blister with a sterile, nonstick dressing and paper tape.

·         Call your doctor if any blister becomes red, oozes, or is not healing after 4 days.

Break in your skin ·         Gently wash the area with mild soap; blot it dry and cover it with a sterile, nonstick dressing.

·         Call your doctor if any break in the skin becomes red, oozes, or is not healing after 4 days.

Note: Examine the underside of your toes and the area between the toes for breaks in the skin.

Calluses (hardened areas of skin) and corns (pressure sores, usually found on or between toes) Show the area to your doctor at your next visit. This is very important.

·         Do not use products sold in drugstores to remove corns, calluses, or other problems.

·         Don’t use a pumice stone on calluses unless your doctor or foot doctor (podiatrist) shows you how to use it properly.

·         No cutting, filing, or anything that may break the skin on your feet.

Peeling skin or tiny blisters between your toes or cracking and oozing of the skin This may be athlete’s foot. Treating athlete’s foot early can prevent serious foot infections. See the topic Athlete’s Foot for more information.

·         To prevent athlete’s foot, wear shower shoes or bathing shoes when you use public showers or pools. Otherwise, keep feet dry.

·         Keep feet clean. Wear clean socks every day.

·         Do not treat athlete’s foot without first seeing your doctor or podiatrist.

Moisture between your toes Dry between your toes well. Moisture between your toes provides a good place for bacteria and fungi to grow, causing infection.
Feelings of numbness, burning, or “pins and needles” If you have new numbness or tingling in your feet that does not go away after changing position, call your foot doctor.
Sore (ulcer) Do not try to treat a foot ulcer at home. Call your foot doctor immediately. If you check your feet regularly, you usually will see a problem before it becomes an ulcer.
Ingrown toenail Do not treat an ingrown toenail at home. Call your foot doctor for an appointment.

With our experience at St. Augustine Foot and Ankle we will do everything we can to help you manage your diabetes and keep your feet healthy. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms in the checklist above or are feeling pain in your foot or lower leg of any kind please come see us as soon as possible. Give us a call to set an appointment at (904) 824-0869 or feel free to email us at info@staugustinefoot.com

Neuropathy

 

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Neuropathy

St. Augustine Foot and Ankle

Neuropathy is an umbrella term that denotes a disorder of the peripheral nervous system. The peripheral nervous system consists of all the motor and sensory nerves that connect the brain and spinal cord to the rest of the body.

How Is Neuropathy Diagnosed?

If your doctor suspects you may have a form of neuropathy, he or she will begin by taking a history of your symptoms and examining you for signs of muscle weakness, numbness, and impaired reflexes. You may need blood and urine tests to check for diabetes, vitamin or metabolic deficiencies and the presence of any underlying disease or genetic defect that may be affecting you. You’ll also need to take a serious look at your alcohol intake and what medications you are taking.

You may also be given an electromyogram (EMG) and nerve conduction velocity (NCV) tests, which is used to assess nerve and muscle function and measure the electrical properties of the nerves. Using these tests, doctors can often pinpoint the abnormal nerves and determine which part of their structure is damaged.

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Nerve and muscle biopsies may also be performed and may provide valuable information about the type and cause of the neuropathy. A spinal tap, or lumbar puncture, is sometimes recommended to help identify infection or inflammation that might be associated with the neuropathy.

What Are the Treatments for Neuropathy?

Effective treatment of peripheral neuropathy relies heavily on the cause of the nerve damage. For example, a peripheral neuropathy caused by a vitamin deficiency can be treated — even reversed — with vitamin therapy and an improved diet. Likewise, nerve damage brought on by alcohol abuse can often be stopped and improved by avoiding alcohol. Peripheral neuropathy caused by toxic substances or medications can often be corrected in much the same way. When neuropathy is related to diabetes, careful monitoring of blood sugar levels may slow its progression and curb symptoms. Physical therapy will help strengthen weak muscles and improve quality of life in almost all cases. Early diagnosis and treatment of peripheral neuropathy is important, because the peripheral nerves have a limited capacity to regenerate, and treatment may only stop the progression — not reverse damage.

How Can Peripheral Neuropathy Be Prevented?

Some forms of peripheral neuropathy can be averted by maintaining sound health habits. Eating a nutritious diet, exercising regularly, and abstaining from excessive alcohol consumption can all help prevent nerve damage. Avoiding injuries and toxic chemicals and carefully managing underlying disorders, such as diabetes, can also help prevent peripheral neuropathy.

With the experience of Dr. Thomas LeBeau at St. Augustine Foot and Ankle we will do everything we can to help with your neuropathy diagnosis and get you back to your regular activity. If you are experiencing burning and tingling in the foot please come see us as soon as possible. If you suspect you have neuropathy of the lower leg or are feeling pain in your foot or lower leg of any kind please give us a call to set an appointment at (904) 824-0869 or feel free to email us at info@staugustinefoot.com