How Diabetes Affects Your Feet

It doesn’t matter if you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, chronically high blood glucose levels take a toll on virtually every system in your body and can cause nerve and blood vessel damage. This damage happens throughout your body but can greatly impact your feet and legs. 

Podiatrist Dr. Errol Gindi is a key member of your diabetes support medical team. He and his team help monitor your condition and work with you to prevent damage to your feet.

Peripheral neuropathy

Nerve damage impacts your body in four main types. Peripheral neuropathy is the most common type and the one that impacts your feet the most. 

With peripheral neuropathy, you typically lose sensitivity. Pain and temperature changes also become harder to distinguish. Your feet may feel numb, or they could experience tingling or burning sensations.

Conversely, some people become hypersensitive to touch, where even the weight of a bedsheet could cause severe pain. Because of compromised nerve function, you may be unaware of foot injuries. Sores can ulcerate without your knowledge.

Peripheral vascular disease

High blood sugar levels associated with diabetes damage blood vessels, too. You could be more susceptible to conditions of both arteries and veins. Blood already has a battle returning from your feet and legs due to gravity. With peripheral vascular disease (PVD), blood vessels spasm, narrow, or block.

While you’re also more vulnerable to cardiovascular disease because of PVD, your feet suffer from compromised blood flow. Since fresh blood supply drives healing, those foot ulcers you can’t feel may not heal completely.

Diabetic complications of the feet

The combination of nerve and blood vessel damage means your feet face serious risks when they’re exposed to injury, ulcers, or infections. Amputations were once a common result of foot problems brought on by diabetes. Fortunately, refinement of blood sugar control cuts the frequency of diabetic amputations in half. Still, 80% of amputations that occur start with foot ulcers.

Amputation is perhaps the most serious complication your feet face, but it’s not the only one. Virtually every common foot problem takes on a new dimension of risk when you have diabetes. Again, you may not feel the typical symptoms of these foot issues, and any damage may not heal due to reduced circulation.

Foot complications that take on increased risks for diabetics include:

Preventing diabetic complications

The best way to prevent foot issues is to control your blood sugar. Test your blood sugar, make necessary lifestyle changes, and take medications as prescribed. Daily self-checks of your feet for injury will also keep you on top of complications. 

If you can’t observe all surfaces of your feet due to mobility issues, enlist the help of a family member and set up a regular foot exam with Dr. Errol Gindi and his team. As with so many medical issues, early detection is key to successful treatment.


Contact Dr. Gindi’s Valley Stream New York office at 516-200-4285 or use the appointment request tool on this web page. Your feet need extra care to defend against the effects of diabetes so book your consultation today.

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