What is a Diabetic Foot?
Diabetes mellitus causes a dysfunction of the peripheral nerve system (diabetic neuropathy) and is often associated with peripheral arterial disease which is reducing blood supply to the extremities (diabetic angiopathy). Diabetic neuropathy and circulation disorders may lead to the diabetic foot syndrome with a limited ability to feel pain and a disturbed wound healing process. As a result, the diabetic foot is prone to bad healing wounds, wound infection, ulceration and damage of the deep tissues.
In early stages, the clinical signs of a diabetic foot depend on the underlying cause. Nervous disorders are leading to alteration of sensation, peripheral arterial disease to typical symptoms of a reduced blood circulation. Symptoms of diabetic neuropathy:
- Numbness or burning and prickling sensation in the foot
- Loss of temperature and pain sensation
- Warm feet feeling cold
- Aching feet while resting: pain relief during walking
Symptoms of peripheral arterial disease in the foot:
- Cold feet
- Thin, parchment-like skin
- Pale, blueish or pinkish skin color
- Bruises and pressure marks
- Intermittent Claudication : pain or cramps in the lower extremities in particular the calves while walking.
Please contact your physician as soon as possible if you observe one or more of these symptoms. Early detection and treatment of the diabetic foot helps to prevent severe complications. The therapy consists of the management of the diabetes mellitus and other underlying causes, e.g. peripheral arterial disease. Since the ability to feel pain is reduced in patients suffering from diabetic foot, they won’t recognize injuries and have therefore to inspect their feet for small wounds or pressure marks on a daily basis to prevent severe damage.
As peripheral arterial disease is an important cause of the diabetic foot, please learn more about this circulation disorder and its treatment options .