Diabetes Data

Diabetes mellitus is a serious metabolic disease that affects 23.6 million children and adults in the United States.  Approximately 8% of the population has diabetes.  1.6 million new cases of diabetes are diagnosed in people age 20 years and older each year. The above data has been obtained from the American Diabetes Association fact sheet.  Diabetes mellitus is marked by the inability to manufacture of properly use insulin, thereby preventing the body's ability to convert sugar and starches into energy.

If not properly addressed, diabetes can cause serious damage that can lead to blindness, kidney failure, stroke, heart attacks, and amputation.  According to studies, 15% of all people with diabetes will develop an open wound on their feet at some point during their lifetime.  In advanced untreated stages of ulceration, one fifth of these cases will result in amputations. More than fifty percent of those who undergo an amputation of one limb will also lose the other within three to five years.

How Does Diabetes Affect Your Foot?

Your foot can be affected by diabetes in a variety of ways.  A common problem associated with diabetes is a condition called diabetic neuropathy.  This condition may cause your foot to feel tingly, a burning sensation, or very painful, or in the most severe situation, result in numbness. You may also feel as if something is crawling on your skin.  This condition is quite problematic because it often makes it difficult for you to perceive pain. Another system that is affected by diabetes is the circulatory system.  Diabetes often causes PAD, peripheral arterial disease.  This results in the foot's inability to obtain the nutrients needed to keep it's tissues viable.  It is also quite common for the skin of a diabetic foot to become dry and susceptible to small cracks and fissures that if untreated will lead to open sores, ulcers.  A less common diabetic complication is a Charcot joint deformity.  This is a collapsing of the joints of the arch of the foot that may have resulted from trauma, and in turn can cause a severe foot deformity.

It is obvious from the above that a combination of these problems can lead to deformities, ulcerations, open sores, death of tissue, gangrene, and infection. These conditions all require immediate in person professional medical attention.  Treatment should be commenced immediately.  If complications are left untreated, serious ramifications such as the need for various levels of amputation and in the most severe case, death, may result.

Foot deformities such as hammertoes, bunions and metatarsal disorders have special significance in the diabetic population. A deformity places the foot at increased risk for developing corns, calluses, blisters and ulcerations. Neuropathy may render symptoms relatively painless. Special deformities can occur in persons with neuropathy regardless of circulatory condition. These conditions will not improve on their own. It is mandatory to seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Points to remember --

Diabetes affects the sensation of the foot--it deminishes ones abiity to feel pain. The is called NEUROPATHY.

Diabetes affects the degree of the flow of blood-  decreasing circulation to the foot. This is called PERIPHERAL ARTERIAL DISEASE (PAD ).

Diabetes often can affect the integrity of the bony structure of the foot-often related to neuropathy. This is called CHARCOT FOOT.