Early Detection Can Minimize Diabetic Foot Problems
If your feet constantly feel cold and you're experiencing reduced sensation or recurrent, persistent infections that are slow to heal, it could be an early indicator of diabetes. More than 16 million people in the U.S. have the disorder and almost half are unaware of their condition* . While there are other factors and signs of diabetes, including (but not limited to) unusual thirst, fatigue, irritability or frequent urination, experts say it's imperative that diabetic patients seek help for chronic foot conditions to avoid long-term complications.
"The three major foot problems found in persons with diabetes work in unfortunate unison, magnifying and escalating the impact of each other," says Dr. Caprioli a podiatric surgeon in Valley Stream, NY. "Neuropathy, the diminished sensation of the nerves in the foot, make patients unaware of pain, the primary warning sign of an ulceration or infection. Poor circulation or ischemia, coupled with a compromised immune system increases the risk of infection and the severity of the problem. The delivery of oxygen and other nutrients to the affected area is restricted," he said.
Treatment option for these diabetes-related foot conditions are enhanced by early detection of the problems. For instance, a regular and thorough inspection of the feet, best conducted by both the patient at home and by a professional in a podiatric surgeon's office, greatly improves the chances of identifying a problem before it becomes severe. Local wound care, dressings and antibiotics can help accelerate the healing process. To relieve pressure on the affected area, your foot and ankle specialist may recommend wearing shoes (even several different pairs during the course of the day). Healing sandals or custom orthoses may be required to protect the foot as it heals. In severe cases, the use of crutches, wheelchair, braces or casts is prescribed to remove pressure and aid proper healing.
When such foot deformities as hammertoes, bunions or metatarsal disorders threaten the diabetic patient's health and mobility, corrective surgery may be required. These deformities will worsen over time without intervention, as will conditions related to nerve, infection and circulatory problems. Podiatric surgery is usually an out-patient procedure performed under local anesthesia.
Maintaining foot health is critical to the overall health and well being of diabetic patients. Each year, more than 50,000 diabetics must have a foot or leg amputated due to diabetic complications*, Dr. Caprioli stresses that many of these amputations may have been prevented with early detection and prompt treatment of conditions.
Drs Caprioli and his associates, Drs. Bilotti, Cozzolino and Haight, are members of the American College Of Foot And Ankle Surgeons, as well as Diabetic Educators. Their office is located at 375 N. Central Ave, Valley Stream, NY. You may contact them at 516-825-4070, or at the Vascular Institute, Long Island Jewish medical Center, 4th Floor, Oncology Building, 718-470-8787
(*according to studies by the American Diabetes Association)