Even though the old adage has been around forever, we still say “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” for a simple reason – it’s 100% true!
No matter which condition we are talking about, it’s simply better to prevent the problem from happening—whenever possible—than to have to treat it later. Of course, there are some areas wherein prevention takes on a heightened importance, and diabetic wounds is a perfect example.
For otherwise healthy individuals, wounds and skin issues like cuts, blisters, and calluses are not necessarily a major concern. Sure, something like an ingrown toenail can be the source of pain and discomfort, yet this is rarely considered to be an emergency situation.
When diabetes is in the picture, however, issues like these are the cause for concern!
If you are diabetic (and even if you aren’t), the odds are pretty good you know this disease develops as a result of excessive glucose (sugar) in the bloodstream. The core issue is the fact that elevated glucose levels lead to a range of widespread health issues throughout the body.
One of the most serious problems caused by having too much sugar in your blood is the damage it does to your nerves. We often refer to nerve damage as neuropathy and this is commonly seen in diabetic patients.
Diabetic neuropathy can cause painful or unusual sensations—since damaged nerves are not functioning properly—but even more concerning is when they don’t function at all.
We understand if you are questioning how not feeling pain is a bad thing, but this only applies for healthy nerve tissues that are able to report pain when it should be reported. Nerves that are unable to communicate with the central nervous system (your spinal column and brain) take away your ability to know something is wrong. In this sense, pain can actually be a gift – it allows you to respond to the problem.
You can think of pain from nerves as being like a “check engine” light going on in your car. When it lights up, you know to take the car in to see a mechanic. When it doesn’t, you risk having your car breaking down and, depending on the severity of the problem, never working again.
Now, the human body does have other senses to let us know when there’s a problem. You can physically see a cut, hear a bone cracking, and even smell strongly-infected tissue. Those sensory receptors—your eyes, ears, and nose—are all pretty far away from your feet, though. Further, we keep our lower limbs covered in footwear on a regular basis.
Given that diabetic neuropathy takes away your best tool for knowing when there’s a wound on your feet, you have to keep your feet safe by using measures like:
- Always check your footwear before putting them on. Take a moment before putting on your socks and shoes to ensure there is nothing inside them. If you cannot feel a small object (on account of neuropathy), it could dig into your foot and open the doorway for a dangerous infection.
- Always wear footwear. Okay, you shouldn’t wear socks and shoes in the shower or to bed, but if you are walking around at home you need to keep your feet protected. All it takes is stepping on something small or stubbing your toe to lead to a serious medical complication.
- Keep walkways clear. Some paths in the home are more frequently-traveled, like to the kitchen or bathroom. Make sure these pathways have plenty of space on both sides to avoid your risk of stubbing a toe against something.
- Address problems early. Whenever you recognize anything out of the ordinary—something that can happen during your daily foot inspection—contact our office and request the earliest possible appointment. Early intervention is your best hope for preventing an emergency later.
- See us regularly. Set up regularly-scheduled appointments to comes see us every couple of months. This gives us the opportunity to evaluate the health of your feet and identify any potential risk factors that need to be addressed. These visits might be brief—as long as we do not find anything concerning—but they can help save a toe or foot from amputation!
For more information on preventing diabetic wounds or to request an appointment with our Carmichael, CA office, simply give us a call at (916) 961-3434. Our team will be happy to help you keep your feet safe and healthy!