November is an important month here at Canyon Foot & Ankle. It’s also a big month for about 30 million Americans living with a particular condition, tens of millions more at elevated risk of it, and the hundreds of millions who know and love at least one person in either category.
We’re speaking, of course, about American Diabetes Month, also sometimes called Diabetes Awareness Month.
If you currently live with diabetes, you’re no doubt well aware of how your condition affects the way you feel and the choices you make on a daily basis. But that doesn’t always mean we do everything perfectly.
If you’ve been a little lax on following through with routine foot care and screenings lately, November is the perfect time for a “reset.” A simple, routine screening and a rededication to proactive at-home care can help keep your feet safe and healthy for another year—or the rest of your life!
Is it Time to Schedule Your Diabetic Foot Checkup?
Many of the most devastating diabetic foot complications—including peripheral neuropathy and peripheral artery disease—may not produce noticeable symptoms until after the damage to your cells has reached dangerous levels.
That’s why we strongly urge all people with diabetes to schedule a regular comprehensive foot exam at least once per year, even if they don’t have a history of foot issues.
For this Diabetes Month, we encourage you to schedule your next appointment now if you don’t already have on the calendar. If it’s been more than a year since you’ve seen a foot doctor, let us know and we’ll get you in as soon as we possibly can. If it’s been less than a year, you can still schedule an appointment for sometime next year now. Just get it on the calendar!
Why is a regular podiatric checkup so important? A few reasons:
- We can screen you for complications you can’t see or feel—yet. Your feet may feel fine today, but that doesn’t mean your nerves or your peripheral circulation are operating at peak capacity. And if we can identify the early signs of a condition, that means you can take steps now to manage it—before it begins to seriously affect your day-to-day life.
- We can manage existing foot problems that could become worse (and riskier) with time. Foot conditions that might seem like minor inconveniences to some people (ingrown toenails, corns, blisters, etc.) could be much more dangerous for people with diabetes. Poor circulation can turn nicks and scrapes into infected wounds without timely care. More serious problems like bunions are also riskier for people with diabetes than those without. Regular checkups allow us to care for these conditions before they get worse.
So, What If the Doctor Finds Something at Your Appointment?
The good news is that, if we identify something at your appointment that you didn’t know you had, you’re usually still early enough in the process to reverse course—or at least halt or slow the progression of a larger condition. Almost all of the most serious diabetic foot complications are 100% preventable with proactive care.
At our office, we go beyond what might be considered “routine” or “maintenance” foot care for people with diabetes, and also offer advanced treatment and prevention services, including:
- Wound care. We can provide advanced wound care options in office for patients who need to clean, offload, or treat a foot ulcer that just won’t heal. If necessary, we can refer you to a wound care center or hospital, but most cases can be handled here.
- Advanced neuropathy treatment. We are proud to be the only Neurogenx preferred provider in Idaho. This cutting-edge tool uses electronic signals to reduce swelling and improve the health of your nerve cells, which can greatly reduce pain and even restore a great deal of feeling and function. The clinical success rate is almost 90 percent, and it enables many patients to get their lives back.
- Diabetic shoes and orthotics. One of the best ways people with diabetes can protect themselves from foot injuries is by supporting and protecting their feet with appropriate shoe gear. That may include seamless and breathable socks, custom orthotics, and/or diabetic shoes built to accommodate such orthotics and eliminate friction and pressure spots. We prescribe and supply high-quality orthotics and shoes for diabetes.
Friendly reminder, too, that since it’s getting close to the end of the year, you may have money in flex spending accounts that you’ll want to use up by the end of the year. A new pair of diabetic shoes, or other treatment options, are a great use of those funds. Invest in protecting your feet, rather than be stuck with having to treat an unexpected injury at an inopportune time!
Recommit Yourself to Proactive Daily Home Care
We’ve spent a lot of time here talking about how we can help you reduce your risk of diabetic foot complications. But what about the 364 days per year when you aren’t at your annual checkup?
The truth is that, while getting your regular yearly checkup is extremely important, committing yourself to the discipline of daily foot care is even more important.
Fortunately, daily foot care is neither difficult nor particularly time-consuming. All it really requires is a few extra minutes per day, plus a few simple lifestyle changes that become automatic. But in order to work, you have to stick with it!
- Give yourself a self-exam every day. Check your feet for cuts, sores, infections, bumps, swelling, cracked skin, temperature changes, etc. If you notice any wounds or problems that don’t improve after a few days, give us a call.
- Keep your feet clean. Good hygiene will protect skin from damage and infection.
- Protect your feet with appropriate shoes. People with more severe neuropathy should be wearing shoes at all times—even indoors. Don’t go barefoot in public, and always wear comfortable, supportive, and ideally seamless socks and shoes. As we said above, we are happy to prescribe and provide diabetic shoes for those who need them.
So, this American Diabetes Month, will you recommit yourself to proactive foot care? If so, it could be a decision that ends up saving your feet, your leg, or even your life.
Need to schedule your next appointment? Just give us a call today, at your preferred office location:
- Twin Falls: (208) 733-0436
- Burley: (208) 678-2727