Diabetic Foot Problems

People with diabetes need to pay particular attention to caring for their feet as they are susceptible to nerve damage, poor circulation, and infection.

Treatment is based on the patient's specific condition. This often means controlling the infection in the foot with antibiotics or, for more severe cases, surgery to drain the infection.

If vascular disease is present, you may undergo one or more tests, such as duplex ultrasound or arteriography and your doctor may recommend open surgery or endovascular surgery to re-establish normal blood flow to the foot.

Three main factors lead to problems of the diabetic foot:

  • Neuropathy: Many factors cause neuropathy in diabetes. Numbness in the foot is one of the manifestations of diabetic neuropathy.
  • Vascular disease: Vascular disease also known as peripheral artery disease (PAD), which is caused by a build up of plaque in the veins, known as atherosclerosis
  • Infection
  • An ulcer or sore in the foot
  • Pain
  • Redness in the foot
  • Gangrene

Your vascular specialist will perform a complete history, including questions about the nature of your diabetic foot problem, its severity, and how fast it typically takes you to heal from a wound. The specialist will also perform a full physical exam to determine which causes are present, and whether vascular disease is present. In some cases, the infection and severity of the problem may prompt your vascular specialist to recommend admission to the hospital for treatment.