Having diabetes increases the risk of developing a wide range of foot problems, often because of two complications of the disease: nerve damage (neuropathy) and poor circulation.
For those living with diabetes, foot problems, such as the following, can lead to serious complications:
- ulcers (sores) that do not heal
- cracked heels
- ingrown toenails
- skin infection (cellulitis) from an open wound
- abscess formation (collection of pus under the skin)
- bone infection
Untreated diabetes can result in other conditions, such as:
Diabetic peripheral neuropathy—this condition does not emerge overnight. Instead, it usually develops slowly and worsens over time. Some patients have this condition long before they are diagnosed with diabetes. Having diabetes for several years may increase the likelihood of having diabetic neuropathy.
Charcot foot—a condition in which the bones of the foot are weakened enough to fracture. With continued walking, the foot eventually changes shape. As the disorder progresses, the joints collapse and the foot takes on an abnormal shape, such as a rocker-bottom appearance.
To prevent complications of diabetes, patients are advised to follow diabetic foot care guidelines. Sometimes special diabetic shoes are prescribed to avoid pressure and rubbing on the feet caused by regular footwear.
Additional information on foot problems associated with diabetes: