Diabetic Foot Conditions

If you have diabetes, you are at increased risk of potentially serious foot problems.

You’ll be glad to know that the foot and ankle experts at Adventist Health Orthopedic Clinic have the training and experience to recognize and treat these problems. They will work closely with the doctors who are helping you manage your diabetes to ensure you receive the most comprehensive care.

What foot problems are caused by diabetes?

Too much glucose (sugar) in your blood from diabetes can cause nerve damage (diabetic neuropathy) and poor blood flow in your extremities (peripheral artery disease, or PAD).

These two conditions, in turn, can lead to:

  • Diabetic foot ulcers (wounds that don’t heal or become infected)
  • Infections including cellulitis (skin infection), osteomyelitis (bone infection) and abscesses (a collection of pus)
  • Gangrene (dead tissue as a result of complete loss of circulation)
  • Charcot arthropathy (nerve damage leads to destruction of the joints and soft tissue in the foot, causing foot deformity)

How are diabetic foot problems treated?

There are both nonsurgical and surgical treatment options for diabetic foot conditions:

  • Nonsurgical treatments include:
    • Proper shoe wear including special diabetic shoes and insoles
    • Diabetic foot care including lotion
    • Vitamins to help with healing and neuropathy
    • Wounds—Cleaned and treated with dressings and immobilization devices such as cast boots or total contact casts
    • Infections—Cleaned and patients given antibiotics
    • Charcot joints—Protective immobilization and assistive devices (e.g., crutches, wheelchair) to prevent weight-bearing
    • Gangrene of the toes—Observation (if infection is controlled) until the toe(s) naturally separate(s) from the foot
  • Surgical options include:
    • Severe infections—Surgical removal of decaying tissue or amputation
    • Charcot foot—Fusion and surgical correction of the deformity
    • Vascular disease (PAD)—Arterial bypass procedures performed by vascular surgeons
    • Gangrene—Partial foot amputation or below-knee amputation

Preventing diabetic foot problems

Many common foot problems can lead to pain or infections for people with diabetes, so it’s critical to prevent them. If you do have any of these conditions, seek prompt treatment from your doctor:

  • Corns and calluses
  • Foot blisters
  • Ingrown toenail
  • Bunions
  • Plantar warts
  • Hammertoe
  • Dry and cracked skin
  • Athlete’s foot
  • Fungal infection of the toenails

If you have diabetes, you should:

  • Examine your feet every day and after taking off your shoes
  • If you do not have neuropathy, vascular disease or a foot deformity, you should have your feet examined once a year by your healthcare provider
  • If you do have neuropathy, vascular disease or a foot deformity, you should be examined every 4 to 6 months by an orthopedic foot and ankle specialist

Want to learn more about treatments for diabetic foot conditions at Adventist Health Orthopedic Clinic?

Simply call us to schedule an appointment at the location that’s most convenient for you at Portland: (503) 261-6961.