If you are battling diabetes, you are not alone! Millions of Americans are fighting with you; young and old, male and female, African Americans and Caucasians. No one is immune to this growing epidemic. Hispanic Americans in particular are at risk of developing the disease. According to the American Diabetes Association, nearly 12 percent of the Hispanic population has diabetes. Even more importantly, Hispanic Americans are at a 66 percent increased risk of developing the disease when compared to other ethnicities. November is Diabetes Awareness Month, and the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) is encouraging all Americans with diabetes, and Latinos in particular, to learn more about the disease, how to manage it, and how to avoid complications in the feet. Diabetic complications in the feet can be very dangerous. In fact, diabetes is the leading cause of lower-limb amputations that aren’t the result of a traumatic injury. These complications and amputations can be prevented. With proper foot care from today’s podiatrist, you can manage the effects of the disease on your feet. Podiatrists are uniquely qualified among medical professionals to treat the foot and ankle, based on their education, training, and experience.
Preventing diabetic complications requires communication with your podiatrist. Comprehensive foot care programs can reduce amputation rates by 45 to 85 percent. Today’s podiatrists are qualified by their education, training, and experience to diagnose and treat conditions affecting the foot, ankle, and related structures of the leg, and podiatrists play an integral role in the diabetic management team.
Why should I “knock my socks off” and see a podiatrist?
The feet can reveal diabetes warning signs such as numbness, redness, swelling, or non-healing wounds. Make at least two appointments a year with your podiatrist, the foot and ankle expert. Have your feet examined to avoid diabetic foot complications and amputation.
- Should I talk about diabetes with my community, family, and friends?
Yes! Those with diabetes, as well as those who are at risk, should openly discuss the disease with family members. Diabetes is often passed down from generation to generation, especially in the Hispanic community. Don’t be embarrassed to talk about it with those closest to you; it’s best to manage diabetes as a team.
- Can I still see a podiatrist if I don’t have medical insurance?
Podiatrists work in health clinics, in addition to private practices, treating patients. Work directly with your podiatrist to create alternative options such as payment plans. Don’t let a lack of insurance keep you from receiving proper foot care.
- Is there a special kind of footwear available for those with diabetes?
Yes. Certain types of shoes, socks, and custom orthotics are all created especially for those with diabetes. People with diabetes should never go barefoot and should make sure to keep their feet protected to reduce the risk of cuts and scrapes on the feet, which can lead to complications. Medicaid and Medicare often pay for these shoes.
- What are diabetic ulcers, and how can I prevent them?
Diabetic ulcers are often one of the first signs of complications from diabetes in the lower leg. These ulcers can stem from a small wound or cut on the foot that is slow to heal. If left untreated, ulcers can become harder to treat and could lead to amputation.
Call Dr. Wichman and make him part of your diabetes management team.