People with diabetes are prone to many foot problems, often because of two complications of diabetes: nerve damage (neuropathy) and poor blood circulation. Neuropathy causes loss of feeling in your feet, taking away your ability to feel pain and discomfort, so you may not detect an injury or irritation. Poor circulation in your feet reduces your ability to heal, making it hard for even a tiny cut to resist infection.

When you have diabetes, you need to be aware of how foot problems can arise from disturbances in the skin, nails, nerves, bones, muscles, and blood vessels. Furthermore, in diabetes, small foot problems can turn into serious complications. You can do much to prevent amputation by taking two important steps: Follow the proactive measures discussed below—and see your foot and ankle surgeon regularly.

Diabetes-related Foot and Leg Problems

Having diabetes puts you at risk for developing a wide range of foot problems:

What Your Foot and Ankle Surgeon Can Do
A major goal of the foot and ankle surgeon is to prevent amputation. There are many new surgical techniques available to save feet and legs, including joint reconstruction and wound healing technologies. Getting regular foot checkups and seeking immediate help when you notice something can keep small problems from worsening.Your foot and ankle surgeon works together with other health care providers to prevent and treat complications from diabetes.

When Is Amputation Necessary?
The goals of treatment of diabetic foot problems are not only to save the life and limb, but also to get the patient healed and moving about as soon as possible. If vascular surgery cannot improve blood flow and podiatric surgery cannot restore function, amputation may be the only solution that gets the patient walking again.Amputation may involve one or two toes, part of the foot, or part of the leg. It is selected on the basis of the patient’s condition and level of predicted healing. A return to normal life is especially possible today because of advances in prosthetics.

Your Proactive Measures
You play a vital role in reducing complications. Follow these guidelines and contact your foot and ankle surgeon if you notice any problems:

More information about diabetic problems

This information has been prepared by the Consumer Education Committee of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons, a professional society of 5,700 podiatric foot and ankle surgeons. Members of the College are Doctors of Podiatric Medicine who have received additional training through surgical residency programs. The mission of the College is to promote superior care of foot and ankle surgical patients through education, research and the promotion of the highest professional standards. Copyright © 2004, American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons, www.acfas.org