What Is Diabetic Foot?


by Umair Shafiq Khanday

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Diabetes is responsible for over 50 per cent of all foot amputations in the United States of America

Diabetes creates a crippling crisis for feet and in serious cases requires surgical intervention.

Diabetes is a disease that causes faulty or insufficient insulin production or low sensitivity to insulin. Insulin is an essential hormone that is responsible for helping cells absorb sugar from the blood to use for energy.

When this process does not work correctly, sugar remains circulating in the blood, causing health problems. Prolonged periods of high sugar levels in the blood can damage many areas of the body, including the feet.

Diabetes is responsible for over 50 per cent of all foot amputations in the United States of America.

People with diabetes are prone to foot problems that develop due to prolonged periods of high blood sugar levels. Diabetic neuropathy and peripheral vascular disease are the two main foot problems that occur, and both can have serious complications.

The two main foot problems that occur in people with diabetes are:

Diabetic Neuropathy:

Diabetic neuropathy can numb the feet, reducing awareness of wounds, infections, and tight shoes.

Peripheral Vascular Disease:

Diabetes leads to changes in the blood vessels, including arteries. In peripheral vascular disease, fatty deposits block vessels beyond the brain and heart.

Reduced blood flow can lead to pain, infection, and wounds that heal slowly. If a person develops a severe infection, a doctor may recommend amputation.


Foot symptoms of diabetes vary from person to person and may depend on the specific issues a person is experiencing at the time. These can include a loss of feeling numbness or tingling sensation; blisters or other wounds without pain; skin discolouration and temperature changes; red streaks; wounds with or without drainage; painful tingling and staining on socks.

When to see a doctor

People who have diabetes should see a doctor regularly as part of their care.

However, anyone who notices any of the following changes should seek immediate medical attention: changes in skin colour on the foot; swellings in the foot or ankle; temperature changes in the feet; persistent sores on the feet; pain or tingling in the feet or ankles; in-growing toenails; athlete’s foot or other fungal infections of the feet; and dry, cracked skin on the heel.


Treatment for diabetic foot problems varies according to the severity of the condition. A range of surgical and nonsurgical options is available.

Preventing foot problems is essential for people who have diabetes. Keeping feet healthy is critical, and a person should be vigilant about foot hygiene. They must check the feet each day; wash the feet daily; wear supportive shoes and socks; promote blood flow to the feet; trim nails carefully; care for corns and bunions;

Be aware that exposure to extreme heat and cold can damage the feet of people with diabetes.

Uncontrolled blood sugars increase the risk of podiatric complications from diabetes.

Smoking adversely affects blood flow to the tissues, which can make foot problems worse in people with diabetes.


Diabetes can cause serious foot problems that can result in foot or limb loss, deformity, and infections. However, it is possible for a person to prevent or minimize many of these problems.

While controlling blood sugar by following the recommended diabetes treatment plans is the best way to prevent these serious problems, self-care and regular check-ups with a doctor can also help prevent problems from developing diabetic foot.

Tips for Diabetic Foot Care

Proper foot care can prevent these common foot problems or treat them before they cause serious complications.

Always wear closed-toed shoes or slippers. Do not wear sandals and do not walk barefoot, even around the house.

Umair Shafiq Khanday

Always check the inside of shoes to make sure that no objects are left inside.

Protect your feet from heat and cold. Wear shoes at the beach or on hot pavement. Wear socks at night if your feet get cold.

Make sure your diabetes doctor checks your feet during each checkup.

(The author is a student of BSc Nursing at the Pacific Institute of Medical Sciences, Udaipur. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of Kashmir Life.)


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