Some of the most serious effects of diabetes are:
- The increased risk of heart attack and stroke
- Restricted blood flow to the extremities in the body (hands and feet)
- The damage done to various bodily systems, including the nervous system and renal system
With a diabetic foot, restricted blood flow and nerve damage cause the most harm.
A diabetic foot usually shows the signs of poor blood flow to the legs and feet, resulting in injuries that heal very slowly and that face a high risk of infection.
The problem is exacerbated by the numbness in the feet experienced by most people with the condition. They are unable to feel the full effects of heat, cold, or pain.
In people with diabetic foot, relatively innocuous injuries in otherwise healthy people (blisters, ulcers, or minor sores) can go undetected and develop into serious infected injuries.
The foot’s appearance will provide some tell-tale signs of diabetic foot. A physical examination is, therefore, the usual starting place for doctors.
The two main foot problems associated with diabetes are:
- Diabetic neuropathy – where nerve damage leads to numbness in the foot and insensitivity to pain or irritation (which, in turn, can lead to infections and other complications like gangrene.)
- Peripheral vascular disease – where the veins and arteries become blocked with fatty deposits (which restricts the blood flow and, in turn, leads to infections and slow wound healing.)