Simple steps that help people with diabetes keep their feet healthy
A diabetes diagnosis can be daunting, but a simple attitude adjustment can make a world of difference in how well you fare while living with the disease. When people with diabetes take proactive steps to monitor key health indicators, experts agree that it’s possible to prevent some of the most severe risks of diabetes, including lower limb amputation.
People ages 20 and older who are living with diabetes account for about 60 percent of non-traumatic lower-limb amputations, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) 2014 National Diabetes Statistics Report.
“The CDC says the occurrence of diabetes-related foot and lower-leg amputation has decreased by 65 percent since 1996,” says Steven Gordon, DPM, a podiatrist at Reston, Manassas, and Leesburg Foot and Ankle centers and member of the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA). “Working together, podiatrists and their patients with diabetes can reduce the number of amputations even more.”
People with diabetes may be less aware of cuts or wounds on their feet due to the nerve damage related to their disease, Dr. Gordon points out. “Regular and vigilant foot care can help catch problems before they develop into a health crisis.”
APMA offers advice to help people with diabetes protect their foot health:
- Inspect your feet daily, checking the entire foot and all 10 toes for cuts, bruises, sores, or changes to the toenails, such as thickening or discoloration. Treat wounds immediately and see your podiatrist if a problem persists or infection is apparent.
- Exercise by walking, which can help you maintain a healthy weight and improve circulation. Be sure to wear athletic shoes appropriate for the type of exercise you’re doing.
- When you buy new shoes, have them properly measured and fitted. Foot size and shape can change over time, and ill-fitting shoes are a leading cause of foot pain and lesions. Certain types of shoes, socks, and custom orthotics are available for people with diabetes, and they may be covered under Medicare. You can find a list of podiatrist-approved footwear and products for people with diabetes on the APMA website, www.apma.org.
- Keep your feet covered and never go barefoot, even at home. The risk of cuts and infection is too great.
- See a podiatrist to remove calluses, corns, or warts—don’t tackle them yourself, and don’t ask an unlicensed nonprofessional to do it. Over-the-counter products can burn your skin and injure your foot. Podiatrists are specially trained to address all aspects of foot health for people with diabetes.
- Get checkups twice a year. An exam by your podiatrist is the best way to ensure your feet stay healthy.
“For people with diabetes, taking charge of your own foot health can help you avoid foot-related complications like amputation,” Dr. Gordon says. “Working with today’s podiatrist will help you safeguard your foot health.”
Did you actually sprain your ankle or could the problem be something else?
Whether you were just recently in a car accident or you were playing soccer with friends, there are many scenarios that could lead to some pretty unpleasant foot and ankle injuries. Our Manassas, Leesburg and Reston, VA, podiatrist sees it all the time. Of course, symptoms of a sprained ankle are similar to other foot problems so it’s going to be difficult to tell whether you have a sprained ankle until you come into our office. Find out more about sprained ankles and when to come in for a checkup.
What are the symptoms of an ankle sprain?
If you have truly sprained your ankle then you will notice swelling and pain almost immediately. You may notice some discoloration or bruising around the ankle, as well. If you try to touch your ankle it may even be sore or tender. You may also notice that the ankle feels stiff and is more difficult to move around. In more serious cases, you may not even be able to put any weight on the ankle.
There are different ankle sprain severities, from mild to serious. The severity of your ankle sprain will depend on the extent of the damage and just how many ligaments incurred damage. While ankle pain and swelling must certainly be checked out by our Manassas, Leesburg and Reston foot doctors, if you are noticing ankle instability (feeling as if the ankle might give out) this is considered a medical emergency and needs to be treated right away.
How is an ankle sprain diagnosed?
While you may be able to determine from the symptoms above that you do have an ankle sprain, the only way to get a proper diagnosis is by visiting us. We will discuss your symptoms, examine the affected ankle and even run X-rays to check the extent of the damage.
How is a sprained ankle treated?
In most situations, the RICE method is the best way to manage your symptoms while your ankle heals. If you aren’t familiar, the RICE method stands for Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. Stay away from activities that could make your ankle worse or prolong your healing process. For up to three days after your injury, you can also ice the ankle for up to 20 minutes several times a day to keep swelling and pain down.
Wrapping the ankle can also help stabilize it while keeping swelling down. Make sure that when you are resting you are positioning your ankle above your heart to reduce inflammation. Only in severe situations will surgery be necessary for repairing the injured ligaments.
If you think you may be dealing with a sprained ankle in Reston, Manassas or Leesburg, VA, then you need to have the problem looked at right away. Call Reston Foot and Ankle Center today.
Few relationships in a woman’s life are as love-hate as the one she has with her high heels. We love them because they look great and make legs appear longer and leaner, helping petite women appear taller and tall women statuesque. The hate, however, comes when the pain begins.
High heels are the No. 1 culprit of foot pain for women, according to an American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) survey. Nearly half of all women wear heels, and 71 percent of heel-wearers say those shoes hurt their feet, APMA reports.
“With many types of heels, like very high stilettos, foot pain is hard to avoid,” says Steven Grdon, DPM, a podiatrist at Reston, Manassas, and Leesburg Foot and Ankle Centers and APMA member. “But it is possible for women to find a happy mid-point between great looks and great pain.”
APMA offers some basic guidelines for choosing better-for-you heels:
- Nearly half of heel-owners admit to wearing heels three inches or higher. That height, however, shifts body weight forward and puts great pressure on the ball of the foot and the toes. Avoid heels higher than two inches.
- A high stiletto with a pointy, closed toe is the worst type of shoe for your feet. Instead, choose heels with a generous toe box area and extra cushioning at the front of the shoe. “A slight heel or wedge encourages your arch to lift,” Gordon adds.
- Consider wearing supportive shoes during your commute and changing into high heels after you arrive at the office. This simple step will help minimize the time your feet spend in heels.
- Kitten heels are a good-looking, foot-friendly option for heel wearers. With a heel height typically less than one inch, kitten heels deliver a bit of height without the pressure that higher heels can cause.
- Be extra careful when wearing platforms or wedges, as these styles can compromise your balance and stability. Very high shoes may lead to ankle rolls and falls. Choose lower platforms and wedges that secure with ankle straps.
- During warm weather, peep toes tempt women to show off pretty pedicures. Be aware, however, that peep toes can cause toes to slip forward or overlap, and may even push nail edges into skin, causing an ingrown toenail.
- Review a list of podiatrist-approved women’s footwear that has earned APMA’s Seal of Acceptance at www.apma.org/seal.
Finally, even if you’re like the average American woman and own nine pairs of high heels, don’t wear them every day. Daily heel-wearing can cause the Achilles tendon (the strong tendon at the back of your ankle) to shrink, increasing your risk of an injury while doing activities in flat shoes, including exercise.
“Treat heels like dessert,” Dr. Gordon says. “Don’t wear them all the time, just on special occasions.”
If you experience persistent foot pain, see a podiatrist. Feet shouldn’t hurt all the time, and if they do, it may indicate injury, irritation, or illness.
Practical, protective foot health steps for people with diabetes
Healthy feet are essential for overall good health, no matter your age, fitness level, or physical challenges. For people with diabetes, however, taking care of their feet is especially vital. More than 60 percent of all non-traumatic lower-limb amputations worldwide are related to complications from the disease, according to the American Diabetes Association.
A 2012 study by the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) indicates Hispanics with diabetes are particularly in danger, because more than 90 percent of those with the disease or at risk for it have never seen a podiatrist as part of their health care.
“The leading cause of hospitalization among people with diabetes—regardless of ethnicity—is foot ulcers and infections, but most of those problems are largely preventable,” says Steven Gordon, DPM, a podiatrist at Manassas, Reston and Leesburg Foot and Ankle Centers and APMA member. “It’s important for those with the disease to ‘knock their socks off’ and receive regular foot exams by today’s podiatrists.”
While ulcers—open sores on the foot—are the most common diabetes-related foot problem, several others are also serious and prevalent, including neuropathy, skin changes, calluses, poor circulation, and infection. The nerve damage that diabetes causes may mean a person with an ulcer or injury may be unaware of it until it becomes infected. Infection can lead to partial or full amputation of the foot or lower leg.
The good news is, regular care from a podiatrist can help reduce amputation rates between 45 and 85 percent, according to APMA.
People with diabetes need to inspect their feet daily and be vigilant for warning signs of ulcers, including irritation, redness, cracked or dry skin (especially around the heels), or drainage on their socks.
“Although ulcers can occur anywhere on the foot or ankle, they are typically found on pressure points on the foot, like the ball of the foot or bottom of the big toe,” adds Dr. Gordon.“If you discover an ulcer or have any symptoms, see a podiatrist immediately. In many cases, the foot can be saved with early treatment.”
In addition to examining your feet every day, and keeping your blood glucose in your target range, make sure to follow these foot health tips:
- Discuss your diabetes and the risks with your family. Diabetes can be hereditary, so talk to your family members about monitoring blood sugar and foot health.
- Never go barefoot. Always protect your feet with the proper footwear and make sure socks and shoes are comfortable and fit well.
- Trim toenails straight across, and never cut the cuticles. Seek immediate treatment for ingrown toenails, as they can lead to serious infection.
- Keep your feet elevated while sitting.
- Wiggle toes and move your feet and ankles up and down for five-minute sessions throughout the day.
“Successfully managing diabetes is a team effort, and today’s podiatrist is an integral player on that team,” Dr. Gordon says.
The podiatry team at the Reston Foot and Ankle Center in Reston, Manassas and Leesburg, VA are focused on helping patients with foot problems ranging from plantar fasciitis to bunions. Find out who is more prone to developing foot conditions, why, and how you can avoid future problems yourself.
Women Who Wear High-Heels Everyday
As much as women love wearing attractive high heels, these shoes can wreak havoc on the feet -- especially when they’re worn for many hours during the day on a regular basis. It’s no wonder that women are at a higher risk of severe foot pain according to a report by the New York Times. High heels are designed for looks, not comfort. For instance, the front part of a heel is usually curved inward, causing the toes to crush together. This can cause bunions. The height of the heel also puts a strain on the ligaments that run under the feet and can cause plantar fasciitis or heel spurs to form.
Employees Who Work On Their Feet For Extended Shifts
The doctors at Reston Foot and Ankle Center often treat patients who have work-related foot pain. Here are some of the workers who most often complain about foot related injuries and pain:
- construction workers
- movers and heavy lifters
- retail workers
Standing for long periods of time can cause pain from flat-footedness, including plantar fasciitis. Ankle and foot (stress) fractures are also a risk for employees who work with heavy objects and are on their feet for long periods.
Athletes Who Participate In High Energy Sports
There's a reason why many sports teams choose to have a podiatrist on staff. Athletes in sports like basketball, baseball, football, lacrosse, soccer and track often are prone to foot conditions like achilles tendinitis, fractures and heel sprains or pain. This is because they do a lot of running, twisting and turning on the balls of their feet. They also often complain about foot and toenail fungus from wearing sweaty sneakers for long periods of time.
Do You Fall Into Any Of These Categories?
If you fall into one or more of these categories of patients who are most prone to foot problems, please contact Reston, Manassas and Leesburg Foot and Ankle Centers for foot care solutions. Call the Reston office at (703) 437-6333, the Manassas location at (703) 368-7166 or the office in Leesburg at (703) 777-2101.
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