factors work in unison to cause foot problems in people who have
diabetes, especially poor circulation and nerve
disease (neuropathy). Neuropathy significantly dulls awareness
of your feet, making you more susceptible to extensive injury-related damage.
If your vision has been affected by
diabetic retinopathy or other eye problems, you may
not detect an injury or infection early. If you get a foot infection or injury,
you may not notice it until your condition is so serious that you require
surgery, possibly amputation.
Race. African Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans are
at higher risk.
Duration of diabetes. The longer you have the
disease, the greater your risk.
Other complications due to diabetes
(small blood vessel disease,
atherosclerosis of large vessels). If you already have
other diabetic complications, you are more likely to have foot
Smoking. Smoking contributes to circulatory problems in
your extremities, increasing your likelihood of developing foot
Peripheral neuropathy (damage to the nerves that control
sensation and touch). Peripheral neuropathy results in poor sensation in your
extremities, increasing your likelihood of having foot problems.
How do problems start?
Because foot disease in
diabetes usually begins with neuropathy, your first step in preventing foot
problems should be addressing problems with your nerves. Neuropathy causes
problems in your feet by disrupting your nerves, both reducing your sensation
of pain and causing problems with the way you walk. Such problems can damage
your feet in the following ways:
Reduced sensation prevents you from sensing
pain and realizing that your foot has been injured. Poor eyesight can also
reduce your ability to detect foot injuries and infections. For example, you
may have a blister and not realize it because you do not feel any associated
pain or see the blister. Without treatment, this injury may progress to
Impaired muscular control causes you to walk in an
abnormal way. By making your foot position abnormal, neuropathy can increase
your chances of getting pressure-related injuries, such as calluses and
Primary Medical Reviewer
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer
Barrie J. Hurwitz, MD - Neurology
May 13, 2010
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
May 13, 2010
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor.
Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this
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