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Posts for tag: diabetes

August 21st is Senior Citizens day. After a certain age it seems there aren’t many milestones to hit before we start getting the senior citizen discount, but being a senior citizen can come with serious foot complications. In fact, it’s estimated that 1 in 3 seniors deal with foot problems needing medical treatment. Here’s a look at the most common foot ailments for those over 65 and some tips on how to keep your feet healthy before you reach that important milestone.

Bunions

As we know (if you’ve been reading this blog for a while), a bunion is a bony growth at the base of the big toe. Bunions are in actuality, a misalignment of the big toe joint, which means they will form very slowly over time from constant pressure. Of course, as senior citizens they have had plenty of time for these to develop. The exact cause of bunions is unknown, but can stem from trauma to the foot, genetic predisposition, or arthritis. Some bunions may have no symptoms whatsoever, but usually patients will experience tenderness, redness, and of course pain. Bunions tend to affect women more than men since tight high heels that squeeze the toes together are thought to contribute to bunion formation and symptoms. For seniors, bunions can represent a big problem, as they can either be a side effect of arthritis or even lead to chronic arthritic pain in the bunion. Some of the best ways to avoid bunion complications in later life are to make sure you are wearing proper footwear that gives your toes space, take care of existing bunions now before you develop pain, and take extra special care if you have genetic inclinations for foot deformities or arthritis. With proper care now, you can avoid bunions as a senior.

Toenail Problems

As we age, our aches and pains become more noticeable and many seniors have trouble reaching their feet. This can mean all sorts of things for your toenails. If you can’t see or never look at your feet you may miss all sorts of things such as fungal nails, ingrown toenails, and diabetic sores. Make sure you are washing your feet with soap; scrubbing lightly with pumice stone when necessary, and keep your toenails neatly trimmed. If you have trouble doing this yourself, don’t hesitate to visit our PediCare salon. It isn’t your standard pedicure; performed by certified medical nail technicians, this goes way beyond beauty. Basic service includes the One Half-hour PediCare: A no-frills service that includes toenail trimming, callus and corn reduction and the post-service application of moisturizer – $35. Take care of yourself now to maintain the healthy feet you need to carry you into your senior citizenship smoothly.

Arthritis and Diabetes

Sometimes old age can bring along some serious complications like diabetes and arthritis. Both of these diseases need medical attention as they have serious complications for you feet. Arthritis occurs from gradual wear and tear on the foot over a long time. In fact, out of all the age groups surveyed, the 65 and older crowd came in first with nearly 50% of participants reporting doctor-diagnosed arthritis. Pain, stiffness, and progressive foot deformities can be signs of rheumatoid arthritis. Diabetes progresses differently. Instead of your feet erupting in pain, you may slowly lose all feeling and have trouble distinguishing hot and cold or even be numb to painful wounds. Not only does diabetes cause loss of feeling, leaving foot ailments unnoticed, but it also cuts off full oxygen supply in the peripheral nerves making existing wounds slow to heal. Easy ways to combat these wounds is to manage diabetes through a plan with your primary care physician. Make seeing a podiatrist part of that plan. Check your feet, wash them well, use non-impact exercise, and fight existing foot ailments immediately.

The best way to ensure you remain, dancing, running, swimming, or even just lounging your way into old age is to take care of your feet early. We are taught to have annual checkups from a family physician, optometrist, and dentist. Why would you not add podiatrist to that list considering your feet are the foundation to a healthy life? Don’t wait until you start getting the senior citizen discount to think about your feet. Your feet will thank you.

Ok so I'm exaggerating, but the health of your feet is often a good indicator of your overall health so when something seems wrong with your feet, it may have started elsewhere. Let’s look at a few signs our feet may tell us and what they may mean for our overall health:

  1. Skin and nails

Many people have dry feet and we just put up with it as a side effect of our feet being feet, but dryness in not normal. If you have dry feet no matter how much you moisturize, have your thyroid checked. A misbehaving thyroid can cause extreme skin dryness and even cracking of the toenails. Check your nails too. Do you see small pits or curves in your nails? These could be signs of psoriasis, anemia, or even lupus. But don’t jump to conclusions, only a podiatrist or other physician can definitively diagnose these conditions.

  1. Circulation

Do you have bald toes? Are your feet cold all of the time? These could be indications of poor circulation. Most people know when they have a serious vascular disease (PAD, arteriosclerosis, etc), but if you once had hairy toes and now they are smooth, this could indicate that your circulation is declining. Cold feet can also be another indicator of a pesky thyroid.

  1. Inflammation

Did you wake up with a bright red, hot, and painful big toe? That would be gout, an inflammatory disease that’s a cousin to arthritis. How about sudden clubbing – swelling of the digits creating a ‘rounded’ look to feet and toes? This could indicate a serious lung infection, intestinal disease (like Crohns), or even lung cancer. Watch the tips of your toes specifically and if you see swelling that just won’t go away, see your podiatrist. Just like vascular diseases though, most people know they have a greater health issue before they see these symptoms.

  1. Persistent sores or numbness

Both of these are strong indicators of diabetes. If you see sores or injuries on your feet (particularly the bottom) that just wont seem to heal or you suddenly start experiencing pins and needles sensations in your feet, have your blood sugar checked. Don’t put this one off either, when left untreated (meaning managing your diabetes) a foot ulcer can worsen over time creating infection. In fact, 6% of people with chronic ulcers end up hospitalized from complications.

  1. Pain

I say it over and over again, but pain is never normal! If you experience pain of any sort in your feet, go get it checked. Having pain around your joints? Could be an early indication of arthritis. Constantly cramping up? Could be dehydration or a mineral insufficiency of potassium, calcium, magnesium, or sodium. If your feet hurt all the time and become very painful to walk on you could be losing bone density, an early indication of osteoporosis.

There are all sorts of incredible things your feet can tell you (even if they aren’t really predicting the future) so pay attention to them. Examine your skin and nails for abnormalities, watch for sores or discolorations, and remember that pain in your feet is not normal! Start by seeing your podiatrist to rule out a directly related foot injury or disease then see your primary care physician to continue routine health monitoring. Your feet can tell you a lot if you just stop and listen.

November is American Diabetes Month. Diabetes is a word we hear all the time, but how many of us really know that much about it? To kick off this awareness month, let’s take a look at what diabetes is, how to recognize it, and what it means for our feet. To start, it’s important to know that there are two types of diabetes, Type 1 and Type 2.

Type 1 is hereditary and there is no way to calculate your risks of having it. In type 1 diabetes, the body destroys the cells that produce insulin and eventually the body stops producing insulin altogether. When the body needs energy, it takes sugars and starches and turns them into glucose. This glucose must be transferred between your blood and tissue cells by a hormone called insulin. If the body stops producing this, we must supplement with insulin shots. Only 5% of people with diabetes have type 1 and it is generally diagnosed in children and young adults.

With type 2 diabetes, the body still produces insulin, but can’t use it properly. This is called insulin resistance. Surprisingly, scientists don’t know the exact cause of type 2 diabetes (sadly, scientists don’t know exactly what causes type 1 diabetes either, but research is under way to find the source and eventually work towards a cure), but there are specific pre-existing conditions and risk factors that can increase your likelihood of type 2 diabetes. These include: history of hyperglycemia, obesity, physical inactivity, genetics, age, and high blood pressure, to name a few.

Although they differ slightly, both types of diabetes can lead to hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia. If a patient’s glucose levels get too high (hyperglycemia) or too low (hypoglycemia) they may experience extreme thirst, frequent urination, general weakness, persistent exhaustion, nausea and vomiting, hallucinations, and even a stroke or heart attack.

Management of symptoms is similar for both types of diabetes. People living with type 1 diabetes can manage their health with a combination of insulin shots, well-planned meals, and a fair amount of exercise. Type 2 diabetes requires similar treatment, but oral medications are prescribed in place of insulin.

Folks living with diabetes need to pay special attention to their feet. Frequent hyperglycemic attacks can reduce blood flow and cause nerve damage, meaning any potential foot problems may go unnoticed until they have seriously progressed. If you have diabetes and have not seen a podiatrist lately, we recommend making an appointment immediately. Early prevention and recognition of problems will lead to prolonged foot health and help you avoid future foot issues.

 

A while back we talked about fungus and the lovely things it can do to your toenails. However, we didn’t talk about what happens when fungus infects our skin. The most common fungal infection of the foot is athlete’s foot or tinea pedis, if you want to sound really smart. Athlete’s foot was first described in a medical text dated 1888, but had probably been around for centuries. The first reported case in the United States was traced back to 1920 and may have been introduced to the US by soldiers returning from WWI.

The tinea fungus is responsible for the condition we know as athlete’s foot and there are a few important things you should know First of all, athlete’s foot is really only skin deep and therefore not generally dangerous (just uncomfortable and unsightly). The fungus enters the keratin, or first layer of skin, usually on the bottom of the foot or between the toes and starts to grow there. Usually, the keratin layer of our skin is being flaked off and replaced by the skin underneath, but the fungi responsible for athlete’s foot slow down this process and so the skin remains in a constant state of infection.

This type of fungal infection is contracted through either direct contact with an infected person or contact with a surface on which the tinea fungus is present. Behaviors that put you at risk for athlete’s foot include walking barefoot in public showers, locker rooms, or swimming pools, sharing socks or shoes with infected people, wearing tight and enclosed shoes, and keeping your feet wet for long periods of time. The easiest way to avoid issues with athlete’s foot is to avoid the above behaviors! Always wear shoes in public showers and around pools (or any wet or moist place where fungus might like to grow) and keep your feet dry and air them out every once in a while if you wear enclosed shoes for long periods of time (like athletes do).

Signs and symptoms of athlete’s foot include a painful, itchy, burning, stinging feeling between the toes or on the sole of your foot, blisters that itch, cracking and peeling skin between the toes, and discolored or thick nails that pull away from the nail bed. You may experience just one of these symptoms or all of them. Cases can range in severity, but are generally easily treatable with over the counter creams and medications. If your athlete’s foot persists or seems healed and then returns, your doctor may prescribe a topical or oral prescription anti-fungal.

Severe cases of athlete’s foot can present with other symptoms. Allergic reactions to the fungus, secondary infections, and infection spreading to the lymph system can occur and require more serious treatment. Diabetics or those with decreased sensitivity need to monitor their feet closely to check for signs of complications and should see their podiatrist immediately for a treatment plan.

Whether mild or severe, no one likes athlete’s foot. If you think you may have athlete’s foot, please contact your doctor to be sure you are not experiencing symptoms of a more serious problem. Keep your feet dry and wear your shoes to the pool. It’s that simple to avoid the itchy, burning, unsightly problem of athlete’s foot.

Wondering what P.A.D. is? Many of you probably know already, but P.A.D. stands for Peripheral Artery Disease. One in every 20 adults over the age of 50 has Peripheral Artery Disease. This occurs when fatty deposits, called plaque, clog the arteries of the legs. This can cause all sorts of problems with your legs and feet, not to mention the increased risk of heart attack or stroke.

The first thing to remember is that pain is not normal! Many people with P.A.D. either exhibit no symptoms or ignore them, writing them off as the general pains of aging. You should not feel pain in your feet or legs at any time. Some of the most common symptoms include pain, cramping, heaviness, or tiredness when walking or climbing stairs, pain that disrupts sleep, color changes in feet or legs, poor nail growth, and sores or wounds that heal slowly or poorly. Even if you don’t exhibit symptoms, people with P.A.D. may notice that they cannot walk as fast or as far as they used to.

So how do we diagnose P.A.D. if most people don’t have clear symptoms? First, discuss your risk factors with your podiatrist or primary care physician. Your risk of P.A.D. is increased if you smoke or used to smoke, have diabetes, have chronic high blood pressure or high cholesterol, or a personal history of heart disease. Your doctor can perform several simple tests to see if you have Peripheral Artery Disease. 

They may check the pulse in both your legs, comparing them to each other and the pulse in your arms. If the pulse is weaker in your legs or your legs are different temperatures, this is a good indication that you may have blocked arteries.

Treatment for P.A.D. is usually based on lifestyle changes and managing other conditions such as your blood pressure or cholesterol. Eat healthier, get out and exercise, and quit smoking. Sometimes medications may be prescribed to help eliminate pain or reduce the chance of blood clots. In extreme cases, special procedures or surgeries may be required.

If you think you have or have risk factors for P.A.D., call your podiatrist today. It’s never too early to start yourself on a healthier path and get yourself checked. Don’t block yourself from an active future with blocked arteries!