How Diabetes Affects Your Feet

Living with diabetes means regularly checking your blood sugar, watching what you eat and drink, and carefully monitoring your overall health. Part of diligent diabetes care is diligent foot care.

At Ortho Engineering, Inc., we partner with you and your medical team to make sure your feet stay healthy and strong despite your diabetes. And we believe that the best care starts with a solid understanding of your disease. Here’s what you need to know about diabetes and how it affects your feet.

Diabetes basics

If you have diabetes, especially if you’ve been living with it for a long time, you’ve likely learned about the disease already. But understanding the science behind diabetes is the best way to keep your symptoms under control. So whether this is new information or a refresher course, it’s good to start with the basics.

Type 1 diabetes

When you eat, your body takes the carbohydrates in the food and breaks them down into glucose to use as energy to fuel activity. A critical player in this process is insulin, the hormone that helps transfer the glucose from your bloodstream into your cells.

With type 1 diabetes, your pancreas doesn’t produce insulin, so sugar remains in your blood, where it can lead to damage in your nerves, organs, eyes, skin, mouth, and feet. Type 1 diabetes can happen to anyone at any age, but you’re at a higher risk if it runs in your family and/or you carry certain genes. It often shows up first during childhood.

Type 2 diabetes

About 34 million Americans live with diabetes, and of those, about 90-95% have type 2 diabetes. In this version, your pancreas produces insulin, but your cells don’t respond properly. In turn, your pancreas cranks out even more insulin, but still the process fails. This is called insulin resistance, and it leaves you with consistently high levels of blood sugar that can lead to vision loss and heart and kidney disease. 

Diabetes and your feet

One of the most common complications of diabetes is nerve damage (neuropathy). In fact, about half of all those with diabetes have some degree of neuropathy, and it most frequently occurs in the feet. 

When the nerves are damaged, you may experience some tingling or numbness, or you may feel nothing at all. And while the lack of all sensation means sweet relief from pain, it also means you won’t know when something goes wrong. For instance, you won’t know when you have a blister, a cut, or an infection.

One of the daily habits of all people who live with diabetes is checking their feet for sores, cuts, and ulcers. If you haven’t yet adopted this ritual, we encourage you to start today. Monitoring your foot health can prevent serious problems — every 30 seconds in the US, doctors perform a lower-limb amputation because of diabetes complications.

Can anything prevent diabetic foot problems?

Diabetes is incurable, but it’s definitely treatable, and it’s possible to have an active and happy life despite your diabetes. Working closely with your medical team, follow a nutritious diet and healthy exercise routine that will help keep your blood sugar levels normal. 

If your doctor prescribes medication, it can make a huge difference in keeping your blood sugar levels stable, so make sure you take it as instructed.

For our part, we focus on your feet and keeping them safe from harm. We design therapeutic shoes that envelop your feet in a protective environment that minimizes the risk of calluses, blisters, and ulcers. 

We tailor each pair according to your doctor’s specifications and your unique foot shape. We can make them wider and deeper than any shoe you can buy off the shelf. If you need more arch support or a softer interior, we can do that, too. We pay attention to your individual angles, size, shape, and even your gait to create the perfect shoe for your diabetic feet. 

We make all our custom therapeutic shoes at our state-of-art facility in Los Angeles, but we have nine locations throughout Southern California, and chances are one of them is near you. If your doctor has suggested specialized footwear as part of your diabetes care, there’s no better place than Ortho Engineering, Inc. for the highest-quality custom therapeutic shoes. To learn more, contact us at any of our locations to talk with one of our experts.

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