A foot ulcer can develop when the skin begins to breakdown and continues to extend deeper and deeper until it eventually reaches the muscle or bone. It often starts as a shallow red crater on the bottom of the foot of someone who has diabetic peripheral neuropathy.
Peripheral neuropathy is a condition often seen in those with diabetes that affects the blood circulation to the hands, feet, arms and legs. It is estimated that up to 70% of those with diabetes will eventually develop peripheral neuropathy. Not only does PN affect circulation, it also involves nerve damage that inhibits the brain and spinal cord from receiving signals from the rest of the body.
A person with peripheral neuropathy might develop an ulcer or sore on the bottom of their foot, but not realize it because they cannot feel it. This creates problems, as the longer the sore or ulcer goes untreated, the worse it can become. In some cases, it can lead to amputation.
Prevention is Key
Because foot ulcers pose such a serious threat to those with diabetes, it becomes imperative that these people take the steps to prevent foot ulcers from developing. One important prevention method is daily examination of their feet. It’s important to not simply glance at your feet each day, but do a thorough examination including the bottom and in between toes.
Here are some foot ulcer prevention strategies we often recommend to peripheral neuropathy patients we see at Arrowhead Health Centers:
Check every part of your foot each day. Look specifically for rubbed areas, small cuts and cracks and calluses. You may need to use a mirror or ask someone to help you with this examination.
Wash your feet every day with warm water and soap. Once you have washed them, be sure to dry them carefully, including between toes. You can use lotion for dry areas on your feet, but do not put lotion in between the toes.
Wear appropriate and well fitting foot gear. This includes absorbent socks and shoes that fit correctly. Be sure to check your shoes before you put them on for anything that may have fallen into them since you last wore them. Change your socks if they become wet or sweaty.
Be sure to keep your toenails trimmed correctly.
Keep your doctor informed if you notice any issues.
When it comes to treating peripheral neuropathy, consider the program offered at Arrowhead Health Centers. Our unique, full service pain and rehabilitation program incorporates pain management specialists, physical therapists and a family physician who work as a team to help you see relief from your symptoms. Find out what we can do for your by calling us at 623-334-4000 and scheduling a free consultation.