About 60 to 70 percent of people with diabetes have some form of nerve damage, also known as neuropathy. Diabetic neuropathies are a family of nerve disorders caused by diabetes.
Because of this, patients with diabetes should get into the habit of checking their feet daily since they are at greater risk of developing nerve damage in that area.
Proper circulation, flexibility, pain and sensation are all important factors to check for when examining foot health.
1. Circulation - Look at the color of your toes. Do your nails have a normal color or are they leaning toward red, white, purple or blue?
2. Flexibility - How flexible are your toes? How flexible are your ankles? If you are experiencing strain when moving these joints, begin flexibility exercises to improve function.
3. Pain – A healthy foot does not produce any pain.
4. Sensation - When touching the top, bottom and both sides of your feet, the sensation should feel equal in all quadrants.
With damaged nerves, you might not feel pain, heat or cold in your legs and feet. A sore or cut on your foot may get worse because you do not know it is there.
Therefore, it is important for patients with diabetes-related nerve damage to also frequently inspect their feet and toes for cuts, blisters, redness, swelling, calluses or other problems.
Experts recommend that people with diabetes have a comprehensive foot exam each year to check for any neuropathies.
Patients with diabetes should ask their doctor to examine their feet at each checkup.
Fortunately, Cone Health has an exceptional network of primary care, podiatry, diabetic and wound care services dedicated to educating patients on how to properly care for their feet.
The Cone Health Wound Care and Hyperbaric Center is dedicated to treating patients throughout the community with foot health conditions due to diabetes-related nerve damage or other issues that slow the body’s natural healing process.
Dr. Claire Sanger is a plastic surgeon and the medical director of Cone Health Wound Care and Hyperbaric Center. Dr. Sanger earned her Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) in 1999 from West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine.
She completed her residencies in general surgery and plastic surgery at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center.
Dr. Sanger completed a craniofacial fellowship at Salgrenska University in Sweden, and an autologous ear reconstruction fellowship at George Bizet in France. She also serves as an assistant professor at Wake Forest University School of Medicine.