How Diabetes Affects Your Feet and How To Care for Them

Medically Reviewed by: Scientific Advisory Board

If you’re suffering from diabetes, you’re not alone. This chronic condition currently affects more than37 million Americans, roughly 11 percent of the U.S. population. While managing diabetes requires significant lifestyle changes, including adjustments to your nutrition and fitness habits, it's crucial to care for your overall health, including your feet. With proper care and management, it's possible to lead a fulfilling life with diabetes.

What’s the relationship between diabetes and my feet?

If left unmanaged, diabetes can cause high blood sugar levels, also known as hyperglycemia, which may weaken and damage blood vessels. This can result in nerve damage, or diabetic neuropathy, which is one of the main reasons why people with diabetes are prone to foot problems.

Another complication of diabetes that can affect your feet is peripheral artery disease (PAD). PAD is when plaque builds up within the arteries, causing your arteries to become clogged. This affects blood circulation, making it difficult for oxygen and nutrients in the blood to reach lower extremities, especially your feet. As a result, you may experience a variety of symptoms on your extremities, including tingling, burning, stinging, weakness, swelling, numbness, pain, and loss of feeling in the foot. 

Why is this a problem?

Diabetic neuropathy and PAD may increase your risk for developing a foot ulcer, which is an open sore or wound that does not easily heal. If not treated, foot ulcers can become infected and result in more serious damage to your toe, foot, or part of your leg, including potential amputation to prevent the infection from spreading.

Am I at risk?

Anyone with diabetes can develop foot problems, especially if the condition is not well managed. Factors that increase your risk include having uncontrolled high blood sugar levels, being overweight or obese, smoking, or having high cholesterol and blood pressure. However, there are many ways by which you can lower your risk. 

How can I prevent it?

The good news is that you can take steps to prevent nerve damage and foot problems. Maintaining your blood sugar levels within normal levels is the first order of business to lower your risk for future complications. This can be accomplished by eating a nutritious and balanced diet, avoiding refined sugars and highly processed foods, as well as exercising regularly. 

Finally, there are several simple strategies you can incorporate into your daily routine to care for your feet:

  1. Check your feet for cuts, sores, blisters, calluses, swelling or redness. 
  2. Always wear (the right) socks: Featuring Circulight® IR technology, Circufiber was designed to help those with diabetes improve quality of life and better care for their feet. Clinically proven toincrease circulation in your feet and lower legs, Circufiber is a simple yet effective strategy to prevent foot-related complications in those with diabetes.
  3. Wear shoes that fit you well: Wear comfortable shoes and avoid tight shoes that can constrain your feet. Plus: always wear socks with your shoes!.
  4. Keep the blood flowing: Move and wiggle your toes often throughout the day, put your feet up, and stay active.

Happy Feet, Happy You

Don't let the potential complications of diabetes discourage you. There are many simple steps you can take to improve your health and minimize the risk of serious complications. By keeping a close eye on any cuts or sores, wearing diabetic socks, and managing your blood sugar levels, you can take control of your diabetes and enjoy a healthy, active life. With healthy feet, you'll be able to move confidently toward a bright future.

Always consult your physician before beginning any program. This general information is not intended to diagnose any medical condition or to replace your healthcare professional. If you experience any pain or difficulty, stop and consult your healthcare provider. 

References, Studies and Sources:

Circufiber Diabetic Socks