At Clifton Foot & Ankle Center in Centreville, VA, we provide outstanding specialized care of the lower limbs. Of all the things that can affect your feet and ankles – disease, injury, chronic inflammation, biomechanical imbalances, etc. – one of the most dangerous that we treat is diabetes.
What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a disease that has to do with the way your body processes food. Some of the food you eat is converted to sugar, which is also called glucose. Glucose travels around the body through your blood, providing energy for all your cells. A hormone called insulin helps turn blood glucose into energy. Diabetics either don’t make insulin or aren’t able to use insulin well. Blood glucose can’t be used efficiently and its level in the blood remains high.
How diabetes affects your feet
Elevated blood sugar levels create a number of problems for your feet, including
- Damage to blood vessels – narrowing and hardening of the arteries compromises the flow of blood. Blood has difficulty flowing to the farthest parts of your body – like your feet.
- Neuropathy, or nerve damage, means that you may not notice a problem with your foot because your nerves can’t send the message to your brain that something hurts.
- Charcot foot– advanced nerve damage can cause bones to become extremely fragile and break easily.
- Changes in your skin – the skin on your feet loses moisture and can become extremely dry and cracked.
- Calluses,ingrown toenails, and infections are more prevalent in the diabetic foot.
Other consequences of diabetes
Over time, uncontrolled diabetes puts you at a high risk for all of these foot conditions. In addition, there are other serious health risks such as kidney disease, heart attack, stroke, and vision problems. Diabetics should take care always to follow the instructions of their primary care doctor. But they should also see a podiatrist at least once a year.
As a board-certified podiatrist, Dr. Kenneth R. Wilhelm is highly qualified to teach our patients proper care for the diabetic foot. Annual checkups are essential in order to catch problems early, so they’re more easily treated and serious complications can be avoided. We urge diabetic patients in the Fairfax County area to make an appointment with us for preventative diabetic foot care. If you’re more comfortable discussing your foot care in Spanish, Dr. Wilhelm is fluent. You can reach us by phone at (703) 996-3000 or online.