What Causes Diabetic Ulcers [And How to Stop Them]

by | Nov 10, 2020

If you have diabetes, managing your condition is very often a lifetime commitment. There are many aspects to this, but one you should never overlook is diabetic foot care

In fact, we would say that diabetic foot care is an especially critical part of a long-term diabetes management plan, and not just because we are podiatrists. Because of the ways that diabetes can affect the body, your lower limbs are often in a particularly vulnerable situation when it comes to serious concerns such as wounds, ulcers, and infections.

A big part of the problem is how slowly and gradually these complications can arise. Many people don’t even become fully aware of how serious their problem is until it’s right on top of them.

But there are plenty of small, easy steps you can take to help reduce your risk of developing diabetic wounds or ulcers—even if you don’t have any history of foot problems. And early detection of such injuries can greatly improve your chances of treating them effectively without suffering any severe consequences.

To understand what to do, it first helps to understand just what people with diabetic feet are facing.

What Can Diabetes Do to Your Feet?

Two primary concerns exist for diabetic feet: poor circulation and damage to the nerves. Each is harmful in itself, but they can be especially terrible when combined.

As the complications of diabetes affect blood vessels, causing narrowing and blockages, the feet are often the first to feel the ill effects. You might see superficial symptoms at first, such as hair falling off your toes – but there are more serious effects as well.

Blood carries nutrients, growth factors, and other important elements your cells need to do their jobs, including repair work. When blood flow is reduced to the feet, that means wounds and other injuries can take longer to heal. In some cases, they might not really start to heal at all unless some form of intervention is provided.

Poor circulation, as well as other effects of diabetes, can also affect the health of nerves in your feet. As nerves weaken and even die, the first noticeable result is often pain and tingling sensations. However, that can eventually progress to total numbness in the foot.

If your feet struggle to not only heal from injuries, but to even recognize when an injury has occurred, that can easily lead to problems going unnoticed and becoming much worse as you continue to bear weight on them. Even a small cut has a chance to open wider, become deeper, and develop a serious (and dangerous) infection.

a foot wrapped in bandage to protect the foot ulcer from infection

Tips for Reducing Diabetic Wound Risks

We want you to avoid situations such as these as much as possible. Thankfully, it is not difficult to greatly reduce your chances of doing so. You just need to make a few small commitments.

Inspect Your Feet Every Day

Starting now, develop a habit of taking a few minutes every day to look over your feet: tops, bottoms, and between the toes. Make it a consistent time each day that is convenient for you, such as right before bed or a shower.

If you see cuts, sores, discoloration, ingrown toenails, warts, or anything else that just shouldn’t be there, keep an eye on it and give us a call if it does not improve after a day or two (or it’s something we should be notified of right away, regardless).

If you are not certain whether you should call us about something, that means you should call us anyway! We will always be happy to help you determine the best next step for something you are unsure about – whether that’s coming in to address the problem before it can become worse, or to simply monitor it for now.

Protect Your Feet

The less damage that occurs to your feet over time, the fewer problems that will need attention.

This does not mean locking your feet away and avoiding all physical activity. We want your feet to keep moving. That’s good for them and you as a whole, and we will always do all we can to make sure you can stay active as safely as possible.

What that can mean for diabetic feet, however, is switching to shoes that provide greater comfort and support for your feet. Diabetic shoes (even athletic ones) are designed especially to reduce points of pressure and friction against your feet as much as possible. They not only help lower the risk of sores and injuries, but also tend to be quite comfortable, too.

If necessary, we can also outfit your footwear with custom orthotics to provide more exact cushioning and corrective support for your needs.

Further measures to safeguard your feet can include:

  • Always wearing shoes outside.
  • Wearing shoes (clean ones) or other protective foot coverings indoors.
  • Keeping walkways free of clutter and other hazards.

Receive Regular Diabetic Foot Care Check-ups!

While there is plenty you can do to reduce your risks of diabetic foot complications on your own, it’s still a huge benefit to have a professional in your corner. We can usually detect potential developing problems before you notice them, and can provide sound advice and treatment to mitigate those problems effectively.

There is no better time than now to take the first step toward future foot health. Call us at (612) 788-8778 to schedule an appointment at any of our eight area locations.