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Diabetes Foot Care

09/11/2011

  • Aaron Vinik, MD, PhD:

    The single most important thing you can say to a patient is take control of your own diabetes. 

  • Narrator:

    Unmanaged diabetes can lead to nerve damage also called neuropathy.  Peripheral neuropathy often occurs first in the feet. 

  • Vinik:

    It could be burning, it could be stinging, it could be lacerating or sharp like a knife.  It could be like bee stings in the socks or needles pricking through the feet, or a foot that feels that it’s incased in concrete and feeling very heavy.

  • Narrator:

    Persistent numbness or lack of sensation makes patients more vulnerable to foot injuries.

  • Vinik:

    I tell all my patients when they come to our clinics, they take their shoes and socks off  so that we will see their feet.  I tell my obese patients who cannot see the soles of their feet that they have to have a mirror in the bathroom.  And the mirror has to be placed on the floor. 

  • Narrator:

    Diabetic socks can help keep the feet dry and comfortable, but avoiding injury in the first place is key.

  • Vinik:

    They’ve got to look at their shoes every day.  Make sure there aren’t any foreign bodies. People lose their keys, their watches, their gold chains in their shoes, and then they injure themselves.

  • J. Pat Walden:

    Yes I get a pedicure, but when I go to someone new, if I go to a new place, I always ask them if they know how to handle a person who has diabetes, because that’s very important when it comes to your feet.

  • Narrator:

    Foot ulcers are common in people with diabetes, often the result of poorly fitting shoes. Poor circulation slows down the healing process.  If wounds are overlooked or improperly treated, the consequences can be disastrous.

  • Vinik:

    Consequence No. 1 is a foot ulcer going on to an amputation.  There are 96,000 amputations in the United States every year, one every 10 minutes.  Eighty-seven percent of the contributing factor is neuropathy. The best treatment for neuropathy is to not to get it.

  • Narrator:

    For WebMD, I’m Damon Meharg.