Dr. Hussain performing a foot exam
I know I have mentioned several times how important foot care is for diabetics. To further the point, I met and talked to Dr. Tayeb Hussain of Evanston Podiatric Surgeons P.C. I had the chance to ask him some questions about diabetic foot care.
Why is foot care so important for diabetics?
There are two main reasons. The first is that diabetics are very prone to foot complications due to decreased circulation in the feet. What looks like a simple callus can be the start of a problem. A callus can lead to an ulcer (infection) which can lead to the loss of the toe, foot, or even leg.
There are 15 MILLION amputations on diabetic patients A YEAR!
The second main reason is that diabetics can lose sensation in their feet and this loss of sensation makes them at increased risk. For example, a diabetic patient with loss of sensation in their toes can accidentally nick the skin while trimming their nails, not feel it, and that can lead to infection.
Should diabetics have a daily foot care plan?
Yes! First thing every morning, a diabetic should check their feet with a mirror for sores and signs of infection. This means thoroughly looking at the whole foot (top, bottom, sides, and between toes) for any indications of a problem.
The foot check should be repeated again at the end of every day.
Is there anything in particular to watch for when checking your feet?
Calluses are a big issue. If you have calluses, you should use a moisturizer. Do not try and pare calluses down yourself. Because calluses can lead to infection, a diabetic is much better off having the doctor treat the callus than trying any self treatment other than moisturizer. .
How often should a diabetic patient see the Podiatrist?
This depends on their age and how stable they are. A healthy diabetic patient who is under 50 years old should see the podiatrist every six months. A diabetic patient who is over 50 should have their legs and feet checked every three months. It the patient is over 65, they should come in every 2-3 months to be checked and also to have their toe nails clipped.
What happens at a visit to the Podiatrist?
The Podiatrist performs a Comprehensive Diabetic Foot Exam (CDFE) which is a non-invasive examination of the feet and legs. The exam evaluates the condition of the skin and checks the circulation of the leg and foot. It also looks for neurological changes in the sensations of the foot.
Diabetics are told to exercise - is there an exercise that is better for diabetic's feet?
Any exercise that increases the circulation to the feet is good. Walking is great exercise and is easy to do. While circulation can be helped, the sensory changes cannot be helped by exercise. Controlling your blood sugar level is really important for maintaining your health.
Is there anything to be careful of when buying shoes?
There are two important things about buying shoes. The first is that the length of the shoes should be longer than the length of the foot. You should be able to press your thumb in between your toe and the top of the shoe. The second thing is that the shoe should have extra depth.
In summary, what is the one thing that every diabetic patient should know?
Every diabetic patient should have their feet checked each time they go to the doctor. This is not something that physicians did on a regular basis in the past. Increased education both for the doctors and patients has helped with implementation of this necessary exam. The diabetic patient should take off their shoes and socks and make sure the doctor checks their feet.
Dr. Tayeb Hussain is the founder of Evanston Podiatric Surgeons, P.C. in Evanston, IL. His web site is http://www.evanstonpodiatric.com/. He is licensed for Podiatric Medicine, Illinois and Wisconsin, Board Certified in Podiatric Orthopedics, Board Certified in Primary Podiatric Medicine, a Certified Wound Specialist, a Fellow, American College of Foot and Ankle Orthopedics and Medicine, andCertified in Pulse-Dye Laser and Carbon Dioxide Laser Technique.
Thanks for reading!