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8 steps to keep diabetes from harming your feet

Posted on by Mary Anne Young, RN, BSN, CDE


Your feet carry the weight of your body with every step, so good foot care is important to keep you walking, running, and dancing through life. If you have diabetes, it’s doubly important to pay attention to your feet because the disease makes you more vulnerable to foot problems.

Our feet through the years

As we age, our feet change. The natural fat pad we have on the bottom of each foot begins to atrophy, basically thinning out and disappearing over time. I don’t know about you, but this is not the first place I would like my fat to disappear! As a result, our feet truly take a pounding, and damage to the tiny bones and joints can occur.

Add diabetes to the picture and you have even more reason to pay attention to your feet because the disease makes you more vulnerable to foot problems. It can damage your nerves and reduce blood flow to your feet, leading to foot ulcerations and amputations as the most common consequences of diabetic peripheral neuropathy.

Unfortunately, this damage can occur and not be detected. And when the damage affects circulation, your body’s natural ability to heal can be affected.

Prevention is the key

So how can you keep your feet happy? You play an important role in finding problems early so they can be addressed before they become serious. Here are some guidelines:

  • Keep your blood glucose numbers on target.
  • Examine your feet daily, checking the tops, bottoms, sides, and toes.
  • Check your feet for cuts, sores, and infections.
  • Cut toenails straight across.
  • File nails with a paper emery board, not a metal one.
  • Wear good supporting shoes.
  • Avoid walking barefoot.
  • Contact your physician and/or podiatrist if you have any questions or concerns.

Most of all, enjoy life as you walk, jog, run, hike, or dance. Our feet are made for walking—and more—even with the loss of the fat pad! Good foot care, especially if you have diabetes, will keep you active.

 | Diabetes & Nutrition Center

Mary Anne Young, RN, BSN, CDE is a diabetes educator with Lancaster General Health's Diabetes & Nutrition Center. A graduate of the Pennsylvania State University, Young is passionate about helping patients understand insulin administration, byetta starts, glucose monitoring and other topics related to diabetes management and self-care.

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