What is diabetic foot?

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Diabetes is a condition that involves high blood sugar that affects millions of individuals all over the world. Diabetic foot issues have been a main health issue and a common cause of hospitalizations.

Most cases of foot problems among diabetics are caused by two serious complications of the disease – nerve damage and poor circulation. One of the critical foot issues these complications can cause is Charcot arthropathy that can deform the shape of the foot and eventually lead to disability.

There are various treatment options for diabetic foot issues. The ideal and effective treatment is prevention. For those who have diabetes, it would require careful and daily inspection of the feet which is vital to overall health and the prevention of damaging foot issues.

Overview on diabetic foot

It is important to note that nerve damage is a complication of diabetes that can lead to loss of sensation in the feet. In some individuals who have diabetes, they could not feel when something has irritated or punctured the skin. A wound that is small in size can progress into a serious infection in just a matter of days.

Diabetes can damage the blood vessels, reducing the flow of blood to the feet. Poor circulation will weaken the bone and can lead to the disintegration of the bones and joints. With this in mind, those who have diabetes face a high risk for breaking the bones in the feet.


Diabetic foot
Swelling of the foot is the most sensitive sign of early Charcot foot and can occur without an evident injury.

Even though an individual with Charcot arthropathy will not experience pain, other symptoms can manifest which includes the following:

  • Swelling of the foot is the most sensitive sign of early Charcot foot and can occur without an evident injury.
  • Reddening of the foot can also occur in the early stages.
  • The redness, swelling and changes in the bone seen on X-ray can be confused for bone infection. Remember that bone infection is unlikely if the skin is intact and there is no apparent ulcer.

Diagnosing diabetic foot

The doctor will discuss about the general health of the individual as well as any symptoms that can develop. If the individual knows how his/her foot was injured, the doctor should be informed. After discussing the symptoms and medical history, the doctor will perform a physical examination.

An X-ray will be taken but the results are normal during the early stages of the condition. If the condition progressed to the intermediate stages, dislocations and multiple fractures can be seen in the results. An MRI might be performed if the doctor suspects a bone infection. Lastly, a bone scan is also used to determine if there is bone infection.


The main objective of treatment for diabetic foot is to heal the broken bones as well as prevent further deformity and joint destruction. To learn to recognize foot conditions and injuries including diabetic foot, sign up for a first aid course with a credible Canadian provider near you.

During the early stages of the condition, it can be treated with a cast or cast boot to protect the foot and ankle. Using a cast is highly effective in minimizing the swelling and protecting the bones. Casting will require the individual not to put any weight on the foot until the bones start to heal. Crutches or a wheelchair are usually needed as well. The healing can take up to 3 months or more. The cast will be changed every week or two to ensure that it continues to fit as the swelling subsides.

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