Diabetes & Bone Health FAQs
Even when you’re not thinking about them, your feet are there to support you. Without proper care, your foot health can deteriorate over time; if you have diabetes, neglect can lead to serious consequences.
Diabetes can cause circulation problems, infection, and nerve damage; as extremities, your feet are at high risk for these issues. However, understanding the risks and following a health plan can keep you and your feet in top shape.
Does Diabetes Affect My Feet?
Yes, diabetes does affect your feet. At worst, you can lose your foot or even part of your leg to gangrene. However, even this extreme case can start innocuously.
One of the biggest risks of diabetes is infection. In normal circumstances, the body is able to fight off infection via the immune system. However, if someone has poor circulation as a result of diabetes, their body may not be able to eliminate the infection, leading to gangrene and amputation.
Nerve damage also plays a significant role in this issue. If you experience diabetic neuropathy, you may not feel small sores or cuts when they happen. This prevents you from getting the medical assistance you need right away.
What are the Treatments for Bones If I Have Diabetes?
Nerve damage can also drastically affect your bones. Called neuropathic arthropathy or Charcot joint, this condition causes the following symptoms:
The good news is, there are diabetes bone treatments available to slow progression and ease discomfort. Taking weight off patients’ feet is a major concern, as failure to do so can result in fractures. This is often done with the help of a cast. In some cases, osteoporosis medication can also be used to increase bone strength.
What Can the Podiatrist Do for Me?
Podiatrists specialize in conditions that affect the feet and legs. They can treat a number of issues:
- Morton’s neuroma
- Heel pain
- Growing pains
- Nail disorders
They can also diagnose and treat diabetes-related issues. In fact, visiting a podiatrist is a crucial step in preventing the development of more serious conditions.
When Should I See a Doctor?
If you have diabetes, you should have a primary care doctor to monitor your condition and adjust your treatment as necessary. However, there are warning signs of complications that should prompt you to make an appointment with your doctor outside of regular check-ups:
- Ingrown toenails
- Infected corns
- Ulcers, sores, blisters, or red spots
- Yellowing or thickening toenails
- Hair loss on your feet and legs
- Feet changing shape or color
- Loss of sensation to touch, heat, or cold
- Pain, tingling, or burning in your feet
Is There a Difference Between a General Doctor and a Podiatrist?
Yes, there’s a difference between general practitioners and podiatrists. Both are medical professionals, but they have different training and focus on various aspects of patients’ health.
General practitioners attend medical school and are focused on patients’ overall health; they’re the first people you go to when you think something is off. When necessary, your general practitioner will refer you to a specialist to treat a particular ailment. Podiatrists are one of these specialists.
Podiatrists attend podiatry schools to learn how muscles, nerves, and bones work together. This gives them special insight into diabetes bone health issues.
How Can the Horizon Foot & Ankle Institute Help You?
Are you looking for experts to help you recover from foot issues associated with diabetes? The Horizon Foot & Ankle Institute can help. We offer both surgical and conservative treatments and are dedicated to working with your primary care physician to ascertain the best approach. For more information or to make an appointment, give us a call at (314) 381-1800 or contact us online.
Image Credit: Getty Images / Dmitry Belyaev
HORIZON FOOT & ANKLE INSTITUTE
6400 Clayton Rd, Suite 412
Saint Louis, MO 63117