Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Surgeons Urge Diabetics to Perform Daily Foot Checks
AOFAS offers tips for keeping feet healthy in conjunction with American Diabetes Month
ROSEMONT, Ill., Nov. 15, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — A simple undetected blister on the foot or toe could lead to a major health emergency or even amputation for many of the 25.8 million Americans in the U.S. with diabetes. According to the American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society (AOFAS) ulceration, infection and gangrene are the most common foot and ankle problems of the diabetic patient. The AOFAS in conjunction with American Diabetes Month (November) is urging Americans with diabetes to be conscientious about their daily foot checks. More than 60,000 non-traumatic lower-limb amputations are performed annually, in the U.S., in patients with diabetes. However, according to the AOFAS many amputations may be prevented with diligent foot care.
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Lew C. Schon, M.D., an orthopaedic foot and ankle surgeon and President-Elect of the AOFAS treats many diabetic patients with complications from foot infections, he offers the following advice, in addition to the AOFAS diabetic care prevention tips below, “I strongly urge my diabetics to report any new deformity such as claw toes, bunions, prominences under the arch of their feet or tilting of their ankles as these are frequently hallmarks of more advanced disease and potential for complications. In addition patients need to be educated that in addition to fever chills and poor glucose regulation, systemic weakness or malaise may indicate progressive foot infection that require urgent care.”
Foot problems are exacerbated in diabetic patients because of neuropathy, which is nerve damage that causes loss of feeling in the feet and affects 60-70% of diabetics. Diabetics should perform daily foot checks to identify cuts, scrapes, blisters which could become infected. An infection may spread quickly with little warning. If the diabetic patient is visually impaired a spouse or caregiver should perform the daily check.
The AOFAS suggests the following daily foot care routine and infection prevention tips for individuals with diabetes:
- Daily examination of feet is essential. Look for signs of swelling, redness, blisters or cuts in the skin.
- Monitor foot sensation by brushing the foot with a feather or facial tissue to test its ability to feel light touch.
- Wash feet daily in lukewarm water, never hot.
- Dry feet thoroughly and gently between toes.
- Trim toe nails straight across with a nail clipper.
- Choose footwear with cushioned soles and uppers made of soft, breathable material such as leather, not plastic.
- Wear protective shoes to prevent injuries to feet and toes.
- Never walk barefoot.
- Wear cotton or natural fiber socks; avoid tight socks or shoes.
- Break in new shoes gradually to avoid blisters.
In addition to daily foot checks, diabetic patients should be evaluated routinely by a healthcare professional. For the diabetic patient, taking responsibility for good foot hygiene, wearing sensible footwear, and careful daily inspection of feet are life-long steps to help prevent and avoid foot complications.
Public education resources on the care and treatment of the diabetic foot may be found on the AOFAS Patient Education website www.footcaremd.com. The site also features a surgeon referral service, making it easy for diabetic patients to find a local orthopaedic surgeon specializing in foot and ankle care.
SOURCE American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society