What is diabetic foot and how it is treated

What is diabetic foot

It is a complication of diabetes, when the vessels and nerves in the shins and feet are damaged due to elevated blood glucose levels. Therefore, a person does not feel that he or she has injured the skin, and the wounds take a long time to heal and are easily infected. If the infection is not noticed in time, it will penetrate deep into the tissues and reach the bones. In this case, doctors will have to amputate part of the leg.

How diabetic foot develops

If a person with diabetes does not follow the doctor’s recommendations or the treatment is not chosen correctly, the concentration of glucose will be higher than normal. Because of this, nerves will be damaged. As a result, they won’t be able to transmit signals to the brain effectively, and the person will stop feeling anything. For example, if he steps on a sharp nail, he will not notice the pain and his foot will hurt.

In addition, glucose has a bad effect on blood vessels: it causes thickening of the walls of arteries and capillaries. This impairs blood flow, so tissues receive less oxygen and nutrients, and deteriorate more quickly.

What diabetic foot leads to

  • Usually complications develop within a few years. But everything is individual and depends on blood sugar levels. The consequences can be.
  • Non-healing ulcers and wounds.
  • These appear after an accidental cut or small trauma on the sole. Because of circulation problems, even small wounds hardly ever heal and turn into ulcers. Sometimes they are so deep that they reach the bone and lead to inflammation, or osteomyelitis.

What to do

It is necessary to tell the endocrinologist about the appearance of the wound or ulcer, so that he can help reduce glucose levels, otherwise no therapy will work. Then the surgeon will choose a treatment for the injury itself:

  • An unloading device. This can be special toe covers, fixed devices that fix the foot in a position that puts less pressure on the wound when walking, spacers for the toes. In some cases, a felt insole in the shoe is sufficient.
  • Medicines to care for and heal the wound. If it is dry, moisturizing preparations with antibacterial action will do. And for a soggy ulcer, a dressing with a sorbent that will absorb excess moisture is used. The doctor may also recommend antiseptics for the wound and antibiotics.
  • Vascular surgery. This will occur if the specialist thinks there is very poor blood flow in the arteries.
  • Foot surgery. Surgery is needed if the wound has a lot of destroyed tissue, a crust has formed that interferes with healing, or gangrene is developing. In the latter case, blood flow to the foot stops and the tissue dies completely. Amputation of the foot above the level of the injury will then be necessary.


Because of the deposition of glucose in the vessels of the foot, blood cannot flow to the tissues as in a healthy person. If you injure your foot, bacteria will enter the wound, and white blood cells from the blood can’t get to the injury site. Therefore, diabetes often develops:

Cellulitis – inflammation of the subcutaneous tissue, which is also on the foot;
infections of the skin and soft tissues;
Acute and chronic osteomyelitis.

In diabetic foot, inflammation is usually caused by streptococci, Escherichia coli, Klebsiella, and Proteus.

What to do

You should check your feet regularly and go to an endocrinologist if you have even a small injury. He will prescribe antiseptics to clean the wound and antibiotics. If the infection has penetrated to the bone, surgery will be necessary.

How to prevent the development of diabetic foot

The main method of prevention is proper treatment of diabetes, which helps to maintain normal blood glucose levels. In addition, it is better:

  • Quit Smoking. Cigarettes impair blood flow in the blood vessels.
  • Avoid walking barefoot. This will help avoid injuries.
  • Do not use leg warmers, and check the temperature of the water before taking a bath to avoid getting burned.
  • Carefully cut your nails. Do not cut them in the corners, so as not to traumatize the skin.
  • Observe hygiene. Wash and dry your feet daily to prevent infection.
  • Choose the right shoes. It should have a wide toe, fit tightly around the foot, but not squeeze it. It is not recommended to wear sandals, flip-flops, or sandals.
  • Walk with shoes on for no more than two hours at a time.
  • Wear loose cotton socks. They won’t squeeze your lower leg. And you should change them every day.
  • Get regular check-ups. If there are no signs of diabetic foot problems, seeing an orthopedic surgeon once a year is enough. And if symptoms of the disease have already appeared, once every 1-2 months.
  • Do not sit with your legs crossed. This worsens blood flow.