We provide many important podiatric services for fellow members of our Southeast Wisconsin community, such as treatment for heel pain and ingrown toenails, advanced laser therapy to promote faster healing in soft tissues, and prescribing custom orthotics to improve biomechanical issues.
Of course, the diabetic foot care services Dr. Andrew Marso provides right here in Milwaukee County are perhaps even more important than all of those.
Diabetes is a huge problem—both for our society and your body!
If you weren’t already aware of how serious a problem diabetes is for our society, consider this:
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 100 million adults in our nation are living with diabetes or prediabetes.
To give that some context, the current population is roughly 325 million—and, if you do the math, that means roughly 1 out of every 3 Americans have diabetes or prediabetes.
From a societal perspective, this is a big problem. Here’s the thing, though:
It’s an even bigger problem on a personal level.
Diabetes is a condition that causes widespread systemic damage throughout the human body, especially with regards to the immune, nervous, and circulatory systems.
Damage in those body systems lead to increased risk for heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure, and blindness. When compared to medical emergencies like those, it’s probably easy to think that your feet would be the least of your concerns. The problem is, that kind of mentality is actually a huge mistake!
Why is diabetic foot care so important?
In order to understand why foot care matters when you have diabetes, let’s start by looking at how the disease affects the health of your feet.
As with other areas of your body, your lower limbs have many different nerve tissues and blood vessels to allow for sensation, movement, and tissue nourishment. Additionally, your feet are complex structures containing a truly staggering amount of bones, muscles, and connective tissues.
We mention this because those anatomical components are negatively impacted by diabetes.
The odds are pretty good you have at least a general sense of what happens with this disease—the body is unable to properly produce or respond to the hormone insulin.
Insulin is responsible for regulating blood sugar (glucose) levels, so diabetic individuals tend to have elevated levels of glucose in the blood stream. And excessive sugar damages your body’s nerves.
When nerves are damaged (neuropathy), the initial wave of symptoms will usually entail various kinds of abnormal sensations—tingling, burning, and “pins and needles” are commonly reported. If the situation is unaddressed, neuropathy becomes more severe and starts to take away all physical sensation.
If diabetic neuropathy reaches that point, you can sustain damage—cuts, scrapes, ingrown toenails, etc.—in a foot and not be aware of it.
It might sound great not to experience pain, but the crux of the matter is this:
You rely on pain to identify problems so they can be resolved.
Think about it this way, if you accidentally put your hand on a heated oven burner, it’s going to hurt. Because it does, you pull your hand away (to avoid further damage).
Now consider the facts that your feet are A) the farthest points on your body from your eyes and B) often enclosed in socks and shoes. Due to those factors, you are less likely to visually see problems and, as such, have to rely on your sense of touch to be aware of problems when they arise.
Diabetic neuropathy can take away that ability.
In addition to damaging peripheral nerves—the ones that normally allow us to experience physical touch—diabetes also impairs the immune system.
By putting that factor in the equation, we now have a situation wherein the wounds you don’t even realize exist heal more slowly than they should. If that wasn’t enough, your body is less equipped to fight off microbial contaminants (viruses, bacteria, fungi).
What this all means is that if you don’t catch problems in early stages, they can become severe.
How severe are we talking?
Well, to help you understand the importance of this topic, it should be noted that, as reported in the Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association, the 5-year mortality rates of diabetic foot ulcers are higher than those for several leading types of cancer—and that includes breast, colon, and prostate cancers (along with Hodgkin’s disease).
So we are talking life-threatening, and that’s how serious diabetes is when it comes to your feet and your health.
What is entailed with diabetic foot care?
The consequences of ignoring your feet are clearly quite significant, but you don’t have to sit back and just accept this as something that is going to happen to you.
Actually, you definitely should not do that!
Life is a long series of events and we all have very limited control within it. Accordingly, it’s impossible to guarantee results in virtually any context. But you can take measure to increase/decrease the odds of a particular result coming to fruition—and such is the case with diabetic foot care.
Essentially, we can help in a couple of different ways:
- This pillar of diabetic foot care entails taking measures to protect the foot and prevent problems from developing in the first place. Naturally, your plan will depend on your specific circumstances and lifestyle. That said, there will likely be a key focus placed on footwear choices (both socks and shoes) and use. In addition, Dr. Marso might prescribe custom orthotics to redistribute force loads and keep excessive pressure off targeted areas.
- There are a couple of considerations in this pillar—daily foot checks and regularly-scheduled office visits.
With regard to daily foot checks, you simply must inspect your bare feet every day. When you do, it’s imperative you check all surfaces (top, sides, bottom) and the areas between your toes. If you can’t see the bottoms of your feet, enlist the help of a loved one, buy a long-handled mirror, or use your smartphone and a selfie stick. Be consistent with your foot inspections—the best practice is to perform them every day at the same time (which establishes a routine). Many people find that it works quite well to do this at night, before going to bed.
Along with your own inspections, you should set up regular appointments with our office. You have the ability to see your feet every day; we only do when you come to see us. As such, we’ll set up a plan of office visits to make sure things are alright (or create a plan to address any issues we find).
- Early intervention. In the event you catch ANYTHING out of the ordinary during your daily foot check—or if you happen to see injury from physical trauma when it happens—contact our office and request the soonest possible appointment. As with a majority of medical concerns, foot issues are typically most easily and effectively resolved at the earliest opportunity.
Create your diabetic foot care plan today!
If you are diabetic, we hope you already have a foot care plan in place—and are following it!
In the event you need one, you should come see us here at Wisconsin Foot Center. Dr. Marso works with you to protect your feet and understand what you can do to catch problems at their earliest, most treatable stages.
Remember, regular podiatric appointments with our Hales Corners office is a big step in preventing an eventual loss of toe, foot, or leg—or even worse!—because of diabetes.
For more information, or to request an appointment, give us a call at (414) 425-8400 or take advantage of our online form to connect with us right now!
"Feel Good Feet: A User's Guide to Foot & Ankle Health"