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Why should people with diabetes see a podiatrist for foot care?

Dr. Christopher P. Chiodo, MD
Orthopedic Surgeon

By some estimates, as many as 15 percent of people with diabetes will develop a foot ulcer at some point in their lives, and 6 percent of those who do will be hospitalized because of a related complication, such as an infection. All too often, the problem worsens to the point where a toe, a foot, or even a leg will need to be amputated. People with diabetes should get their feet checked regularly by their healthcare team.

If you have diabetes, your healthcare provider should perform a complete foot exam at least annually—more often if you have foot problems. Remember to take off your socks and shoes while you wait for your physical examination.

Call or see your healthcare provider if you have cuts or breaks in the skin, or have an ingrown nail. Also, tell your healthcare provider if your foot changes color, shape or just feels different (for example, becomes less sensitive or hurts).

If you have corns or calluses, your healthcare provider can trim them for you. Your healthcare provider can also trim your toenails if you cannot do so safely. Because people with diabetes are more prone to foot problems, a foot care specialist may be on your healthcare team.

A doctor who cares for feet is called a podiatrist. Your doctor can help you to take care of your feet in diabetes.

Tell your doctor right away about any foot problems, so he or she can check for nerve health, blood flow and other issues.

This answer is based on source information from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

Diabetes causes long-term problems with the small nerves of the feet and lower legs. Nerve damage in these areas can cause a loss of feeling, or sensation. That means a small injury can go unnoticed. A foot infection can become very serious in people with diabetes. A podiatrist can help spot foot problems and prevent complications.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.