How does a podiatrist or foot doctor help people with diabetes?

Dr. Jack Merendino, MD
Endocrinology Diabetes & Metabolism
A podiatrist or doctor of podiatric medicine (DPM) is a physician and surgeon specializing in foot and ankle care, including the treatment of diabetes-related conditions. People with peripheral neuropathy and sensory loss may get foot ulcers, or calluses that can become ulcerated if they are not treated. Surgery is sometimes necessary to correct a bad bunion or hammertoe to prevent ulcer formation. A podiatrist may trim the toenails of someone who has neuropathy and is at risk of injuring him- or herself. He may prescribe orthotics -- specialized shoe inserts -- or prescription shoes with increased depth in the toe cap to prevent irritation or skin breakdown.
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A podiatrist is an important part of a team of physicians who manage complications associated with diabetes. Diabetes can affect circulation, nerve sensation (feet go numb or tingly), skin health, and healing wounds and fighting infections. If you have no other complications with your diabetes, an annual foot exam can help detect problems early. Pressure points that turn into calluses can result in foot ulcerations and infections. In growing or fungal toenails can lead to infections as well. Some patients require foot care every 2-3 months to avoid problems with their feet and closely monitor for problems. A podiatrist can assess shoes and even prescribe shoes and orthoses for your feet that will help prevent these complications and accommodate a deformity like hammertoes and bunions. If you have had a wound on your foot of some kind, this can help keep it from recurring. Podiatrists are also trained in surgical correction of many deformities and acquired foot problems.

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