JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO, Texas –
The Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Clinic here presented "Learning to Love Your Feet: Diabetes and Foot Health" Nov. 20 as part of National Diabetes Awareness Month.
The session, hosted by Col. Scott Riise, medical director for family health for the 59th Medical Wing, brought awareness on the importance of taking care of one's feet whether they are diabetic or not.
The foot health presentation was the last lecture of a three-part series held at the hospital's Family Health Clinic throughout the month of November.
The disease has impacted nearly 26 million adults and children in the United States, according to the American Diabetes Association.
It can lead to amputation of the foot and other parts of the body.
During the hour and a half session, Riise discussed the different effects diabetes has on feet, ways for diabetics to sustain a healthy lifestyle, and when to seek help for foot problems.
"Your feet keep you active," he said. "It's kind of a use it or lose it type of situation. If you want to maintain a healthy lifestyle, independence, and manage your diabetes, it is important to have healthy feet."
Three ways diabetes can affect your feet is through foot deformities, artery, and nerve damage.
Artery damage can lead to problems like feet feeling cold, poor circulation, and reduced ability to heal from infections. There are three different types of nerve damage that impact the feet, which include sensory, motor and autonomic nerves. Sensory nerve damage can lead to reduced balance and possibly sensation in the feet. You may also not be able to feel foot injuries, said Riise.
Damage to the motor nerves can result in cushioning moves from contact points, deformities and muscle weakness which include 50 percent reduction in muscle size. Injuries to the autonomic nerves can cause reduced sweating and dry/cracked skin, added the medical director.
The clinic provided tips to keep your feet healthy to maintain a healthy lifestyle:
- Stay active
- Take care of your diabetes
- Wash your feet everyday
- Keep your toe nails trimmed
- Protect your feet from hot and cold areas
- Improve circulation by wiggling your toes and ankles
- Do not smoke
- Inspect them everyday
- Inspect your shoes before you put your feet in
- Use appropriate shoes and socks
- Consider using cushioned insoles
- Use a moisturizer on the tops and bottoms of your feet (not between toes) if needed
- Do not walk barefoot
People are advised to have their feet examined by a podiatrist team annually. However if problems such as ingrown toe nails, warm, red skin or open sores develop, or if your feet suddenly change slope seek professional help immediately.