Spring is coming, and with it the warm weather that makes us all want to kick off our shoes and spend some time barefoot in the sun. But before you kick those shoes off, take a moment to think about your feet.
Is the combination of warm weather and thinking about feet a coincidence? I think not! April is National Foot Health Awareness Month. We’ve all heard that foot complications are common among people with diabetes, but what does that mean, and how do you avoid them?
I looked through a few of the American Diabetes Association’s books to get a foothold on the basics. Here are a few tips that might help you find your footing on this topic:
Check your feet: Why?
Basically, people with diabetes are more likely to have nerve damage or neuropathy, poor circulation and are less likely to be able to fight infections well. I won’t get into all the details about foot complications because you can find those here. What I will say, however, is that foot problems are one of the leading causes of hospitalization for people with diabetes. And diabetes is the leading cause of non-traumatic lower-limb amputations. Yikes! This is definitely not something you want to sidestep.
Check your feet: How?
This was something I’d never thought about before. I’ve been told “check your feet every day,” but what am I checking for? Here’s a quick list:
- Cuts and scrapes
- Sore toenails
- Changes in skin color or temperature
If you notice any of these foot problems, it’s a good idea to go see a foot specialist or podiatrist. I’m not trying to scare you, but I do want you to keep your feet, and I think you probably want to keep your feet, too. So be proactive and check them often.
Check your feet: Who?
You should check your feet regularly – every day, if possible. If you’re not in the habit, try to start checking your feet every week at first, to help you get a foot in the door. If you can’t see the bottoms of your feet, try using a mirror or ask a friend to help.
Additionally, be sure that someone from your health care team conducts a foot examination at least once a year. If they forget, put your foot down (literally) and ask them to do it!
Keep up the pace!
Did you know that you shouldn’t soak your feet? Or that you shouldn’t go barefoot? Some of these foot care tips may surprise you, but they can help you take care of your feet. You can find a list of these foot care tips (plus a few more) on the American Diabetes Association’s website.
That might seem like a lot of information, but we’re really just dipping our toes in the water (but not soaking them!). As the weather starts to warm and your toes start to wiggle, spend a little time planning how you intend to integrate foot health into your routine. It may be baby steps at first, but at least you’re doing something proactive to maintain your long-term health.
Information for this piece came from The Uncomplicated Guide to Diabetes Complications (3rd edition), Real-Life Guide to Diabetes: Practical Answers to Your Diabetes Problems, and Your First Year with Diabetes: What to do, month by month.