According to research from the National Institutes of Health, nearly 50 percent of individuals living with diabetes will develop foot problems caused by neuropathy. A common result of peripheral vascular disease (PVD), neuropathy is a circulatory disorder related to poor blood circulation in the dexterities such as feet or hands. These complications are found in those living with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes — generally a result of prolonged elevated blood sugar levels, which leads to damaged blood vessels.
To better understand peripheral vascular disease and neuropathy, we sat down to discuss its details with Angela Norton, diabetes educator and case manager at Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center.
What kinds of foot problems are associated with diabetes?
Peripheral vascular disease (PVD) is the most common foot problem associated with diabetes. By definition, PVD is a circulatory condition associated with narrowed blood vessels that reduce blood flow to limbs. Symptoms of PVD include leg pain or numbness.
Often times, PVD can lead to peripheral neuropathy in which excessive nerve damage lessens the ability to feel pain, heat and cold. This numbness can lead to even bigger problems when sores or swelling in the feet go unnoticed because the individual cannot feel the pain typically associated with an injury. Another condition that stems from PVD is Charcot foot, an inflammatory syndrome characterized by weakened bones and joints. Charcot foot is a very serious condition that can lead to severe disability and even amputation when not medically assessed.
What signs or symptoms could represent more serious issues?
Any prolonged swelling, lesions, foul odor, pain, redness, numbness or "pins and needles" feeling should be evaluated by a medical professional immediately.
Are such foot problems preventable?
These problems are absolutely preventable. The number one preventive measure is good blood glucose management, which helps tremendously in preventing these issues from developing or worsening.
For those living with diabetes, I highly suggest doing the following to help prevent developing any foot problems associated with PVD and neuropathy:
- Daily foot care and observation of any sores or lesions
- Careful toenail clipping and emery board use
- Wearing good-fitting shoes
- Regular moisturizing
- Consistent visits with your doctor
- Notifying your podiatrist or primary care doctor when any foot sores, swelling or pain begins
For more information on diabetes and how to prevent issues like neuropathy or Charcot foot, visit www.sharp.com/diabetes.
For the media: To speak with Angela Norton about tips for people living with diabetes, contact senior public relations specialist Erica Carlson at firstname.lastname@example.org.