Diabetic foot ulcer is an open sore or wound on the foot. Ulcers can occur in up to 15% of UNCONTROLLED diabetes. The most common location is the bottom of the feet. Uncontrolled diabetes is the leading cause of nontraumatic lower extremity amputations in the United States

People with diabetes and a history of foot ulcer are more likely to die than undergo amputation during 6 years of follow-up in a recent study.  Vascular and metabolic risk factors were associated with poor outcomes.

Previous myocardial infarction, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease and chronic kidney disease were also associated with higher risks for death and amputation.

The good news is diabetic foot ulcers are mostly avoidable IF you control your diabetes. Early nerve and vessel damage can easily be evaluated by your healthcare provider by using a tuning fork and monofilament. A noninvasive test, the ankle-brachial index (ABI) can evaluate for vascular disease. If you do have nerve disease or neuropathy, in the early stages, it could be improved or reversed.

How to Prevent a Foot Ulcer

  • Eat healthy.
  • Examine your feet daily. Look between toes and on the soles. Seek medical help immediately for any concerns. If you cannot see the bottom of your feet, use a mirror, or have another family member examine for you.
  • Moisturize your feet with lotion or olive oil.
  • Wear loose socks and change several times daily if feet become moist with sweaty.
  • Shoes should be worn at ALL times, even inside. They should fit properly and have good support. Insoles may need to be replaced periodically.
  • Weight loss if needed.
  • Blood pressure and lipids needs to be in control.
  • Stop smoking.
  • Lower alcohol intake
  • See your health care provider regularly to help manage your diabetes and other medical issues
  • If you have neuropathy, you should see your foot doctor (podiatrist) regularly.

Can I Get a Pedicure?

Most diabetics can have a pedicure IF done carefully with mild filing of calloused areas and toenail. Avoid nail clippers which can accidently cut the skin. Our feet are naturally dirty, so any open area is a potential risk for infection to get into the body. For an uncontrolled diabetic, this risk is higher. 

If your diabetes complications are severe and include vascular disease or loss of sensation to feet, a pedicure should be avoided. Instead, see your podiatrist regularly.

Baby your feet so you can keep them!!

Dr. Julie Wood is a Nurse Practitioner and has been serving the Middle Tennessee area for more than 30 years, specializing in adults with obesity, prediabetes and diabetes. Office is located at 401 First Avenue, Mt. Pleasant, TN and statewide with telehealth. Dr. Wood can be reached at 931-325-5560, www.diabetesmgtassociates.com, info@diabetesmgtassociates.com.  

Articles are meant to be informative and should never replace the advice of your health care provider.