If you've recently been diagnosed with diabetes, there's no doubt you're feeling overwhelmed with all kinds of information about how diabetes affects your overall health, in addition to possibly having to make huge lifestyle changes. One of the ways diabetes affects your health is that it could cause nerve damage and blood circulation problems in your feet, which could lead to wounds and ulcers.
Often, diabetic wounds aren't able to heal properly, which could lead to the need for partial foot amputation. In addition to following your diabetic diet, you'll need to follow guidelines for foot care so you don't run the risk of needing an amputation. Here are a few important things you should know to reduce your risks and a different kind of therapy if you need an amputation.
Take care of your feet to prevent wounds & ulcers
Since your body doesn't heal at the same rate as a non-diabetic, any blister, cut, scratch, sore or other wound will take a lot longer to heal. For this reason, it is extremely important to protect your feet from getting wounds in the first place. Here are a few things to do:
- Wear comfortable shoes that protect your feet
- Always wear socks to help prevent blisters
- Moisturize your feet daily so the skin doesn't crack
- Check for ingrown toenails daily
- Do not cut your cuticles or pull on any hangnails
- Cut your toenails carefully so there are no sharp edges that could dig into your toes
- File any sharp edges of your toenails to make them smooth
Strengthen & condition with podiatric sports therapy
Just because you are diabetic doesn't mean you can't strengthen and condition your body or participate in sports. Take Sam Fuld, an Oakland Athletic, for example. Sure, you have to be a lot more careful than others, and you do have to watch what you eat so you don't get dizzy while working out, but being in better shape physically will make you feel better overall than if you just lounge around and give up.
Begin strengthening and conditioning your body with a podiatric sports medicine therapy program. They understand the challenges of diabetics and know how to keep your safety issues in mind to prevent injuries to your feet. It's important to improve the strength and condition of your feet and ankles in case you ever do need a partial foot amputation in the future. That way, your remaining limb is already strong enough to compensation for the amputated part.
Use mirror therapy to reduce phantom limb pain after an amputation
If you do need a partial foot amputation in the future, you'll likely still experience a feeling of phantom pain. Phantom limb pain occurs when a limb is amputated yet the person still feels pain as if the limb is still there. Researchers have found that when the limb with amputation is placed behind a mirror and the remaining limb is used to create a reflective illusion, people may experience a reduction in phantom limb pain. This is called mirror therapy.
It's believed that this happens because the mirror neuron system of the brain increases excitability in cortical and spinal motor skills. The brain uses what it sees in the mirror to stimulate the processes of movement and motion that would take place in the missing limb. Ask your podiatric sports medicine therapist for more information about at-home mirror therapy if you have a missing limb or have had a partial foot amputation. Since mirror therapy will need to be done on a daily basis to be effective, you'll want to install therapy mirrors in your home.