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Diabetic Foot Care & Complications

diabetic foot care

The feet, which are often overlooked during regular medical checkups, can reveal the first signs and symptoms of diabetes and other serious medical conditions. The type and severity of complications suffered as a result of diabetes vary from person to person, so it is very important that a podiatric physician becomes part of your Diabetes Management Team.

A diabetic foot ulcer is an open sore or wound that most commonly occurs on the bottom of the foot in approximately 15 percent of patients with diabetes. Of those who develop a foot ulcer, six percent will be hospitalized due to infection or other ulcer-related complications. Ulcers form due to a combination of factors, such as lack of feeling in the feet, poor circulation, foot deformities, irritation (such as friction or pressure), and trauma, as well as duration of diabetes.


Diabetic neuropathy is the most common type of neuropathy and affects up to two thirds of patients with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Diabetic neuropathy often involves the feet and legs and is responsible for lack of sensation, ease of injury, and infections.

PAD is caused by a blockage or narrowing of the arteries in the legs when fatty deposits called plaque build up. The buildup of plaque causes the arteries to harden and narrow, which is called atherosclerosis. This results in a reduction of blood flow to the legs and feet and is commonly referred to as poor circulation. People with diabetes are at higher risk of developing PAD, and individuals with PAD are four to five times more likely to have a heart attack or stroke.

Charcot foot is a sudden softening of the foot’s bones caused by severe neuropathy, or nerve damage, a common diabetic foot complication. It can trigger an avalanche of problems, including joint loss, fractures, collapse of the arch, massive deformity, ulcers, amputation, and even death.

Foot Pain

Your Feet Aren’t Supposed to Hurt!

It is important to remember that foot pain is not normal. At the first sign of pain, or any noticeable changes in your feet, seek professional podiatric medical care. Your feet must last a lifetime and regular foot care is important to your overall health. With proper detection, intervention, and care, most foot and ankle problems can be lessened or prevented. Click here to learn about fractures, sprains and strains.

treatment of foot pain by florida podiatrists


Arthritis is inflammation and swelling of the cartilage and lining of the joints, generally accompanied by an increase in the fluid in the joints. Each foot has 33 joints that can be afflicted with arthritis.

A flat foot is a structural deformity resulting in the lowering of the arch of the foot. This is sometimes referred to as "fallen arches". A person with a flat foot or a highly arched foot that is fairly painful is in need of treatment. People with flat feet may have ankle, knee, or low back pain.


Heel pain is generally the result of faulty biomechanics (walking gait abnormalities) that place too much stress on the heel bone and the soft tissues that attach to it. The stress may also result from injury, or a bruise incurred, while walking, running, or jumping on hard surfaces. Other common causes of heel pain include wearing poorly constructed footwear and/or being overweight.

Plantar fasciitis, one of a variety of conditions that lead to heel pain, is an inflammation of the long band of connective tissue running from the heel to the ball of the foot, causing pain at the bottom of the heel and arch. The inflammation may be aggravated by shoes that lack appropriate support, especially in the arch area. It is common among athletes who run and jump a lot and can be quite painful.

Tendinitis is the inflammation of a tendon. Achilles tendinitis, or an inflammation of the Achilles tendon, is one of the most common causes of foot or ankle pain.

Skin Conditions

Athlete's foot is a skin disease caused by a fungus, usually occurring between the toes. The fungus most commonly attacks the feet, because shoes create a warm, dark, and humid environment that encourages fungus growth. The warmth and dampness of areas around swimming pools, showers, and locker rooms are also breeding grounds for fungi.

A corn or callus is a buildup of skin that forms at points of pressure or over bony prominences. Calluses form on the bottom side of the foot; corns form on the top of the foot and between the toes.

Skin complications for those who have diabetes are quite common, with almost thirty percent of diabetic patients suffering from one skin complication or another. Fungal and bacterial infections, cracked, dry feet, and constant itching are all symptoms of diabetes.


Skin cancer can develop anywhere on the body, including in the lower extremities. Most skin cancers of the feet are painless, and often there is a history of recurrent cracking, bleeding, or ulceration.

Excessive sweating of the feet is called hyperhidrosis. People whose feet sweat excessively often also have problems with excessive sweating of the palms.

Warts are one of several soft tissue conditions of the foot that can be quite painful. They are caused by a virus, which generally invades the skin through small or invisible cuts and abrasions. Warts that appear on the sole are known as plantar warts and can be the source of sharp, burning pain. It is important to note that warts can be very resistant to treatment and have a tendency to recur.

Toe Joint & Nerve Disorders

A bunion is an enlargement of the joint at the base of the big toe—the metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint—that forms when the bone or tissue at the big toe joint moves out of place. This forces the toe to bend toward the others, causing an often painful lump of bone on the foot. Since this joint carries a lot of the body’s weight while walking, bunions can cause extreme pain if left untreated.

A hammertoe is a contracture—or bending—of the toe at the first joint of the digit. This bending causes the toe to appear like an upside-down V when looked at from the side. Any toe can be involved, but the condition usually affects the second through fifth toes, known as the lesser digits. Hammertoes are more common to females than males.

A neuroma is a painful condition, also referred to as a “pinched nerve” or nerve tumor. It is a benign growth of nerve tissue frequently found between the third and fourth toes that brings on pain, a burning sensation, tingling, or numbness between the toes and in the ball of the foot.

Toenail Conditions

florida podiatrist treat ingrown toenails and toenail fungus

An ingrown toenail is a painful condition characterized by the nail digging into the surrounding skin, leading to inflammation and possible infection of the toe. This is a serious condition for people with impaired circulation, diabetes, or other systemic diseases.

A fungal nail infection, a condition called onychomycosis, is caused primarily by organisms called dermatophytes. Once these tiny organisms find their way under a nail, they begin to multiply. Ironically, when the fungus finds its way under the nail, the nail itself provides a protective environment for the fungus to thrive. The toenails are most vulnerable to infection, since they spend much of their day surrounded by dark, warm, and often moist shoes and socks.


florida podiatrists treat foot and ankle condtions

Shoe inserts are any kind of non-prescription foot support designed to be worn inside a shoe. Custom orthotics are specially-made devices designed to support and comfort your feet.

Often when pain or deformity persists, surgery may be appropriate to alleviate discomfort or to restore the function of your foot.