Everyone knows that diabetes, otherwise known as high blood sugar, is bad for you. What most people don’t realize, however, is just how many people in the US have diabetes and the impact diabetes has on their feet. In 2021 the CDC released the following info graphic:
As a vascular surgeon the primary issue I see in patients with diabetes is foot infection. But how does diabetes specifically make it more likely for patients to develop foot infections? My hope in writing this blog today is to give patients a complete understanding of what happens to the feet of people with diabetes.
High concentrations of sugar in the blood lead to what physicians call an inflammatory state in the arteries, or blood vessels that take blood from the heart to the rest of the body. The inflammatory state results in scarring and narrowing in the arteries. However, only smaller blood vessels such as the ones in the eyes, toes/feet, and kidneys are affected significantly. In the feet, the scarring affects both arteries that supply the feet and toes themselves as well as the arteries that supply the nerves.
With a lack of blood flow to the nerves of the feet, patients lose sensation in their toes and feet. Thus, when a patient has an accidental injury like a scratch or a bruise, no pain is registered, and the area continues to be traumatized and unable to heal. In addition, the muscles of the foot lose their ability to contract, and they then relax into positions that create bony prominences that erode through the skin and cause ulcers. Finally, the nerve damage also results in the loss of natural oils in the skin that then makes the skin dry and prone to cracking. This cracking then increases the chance of ulceration and foot infection.
As you can see, diabetes is very bad for the foot! If you are diabetic and see an ulcer on your foot or have either pain or numbness, do not hesitate to call our office at 408 376-3626 to schedule an appointment today! Visit our website at www.southbayvascular.com to learn more. We Can Help!