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The Importance of Podiatric Health for Diabetes and PAD

  • Category: Articles by Clinicians
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  • Written By: Nava Mohammadi, Doctor of Podiatric Medicine, Casa Colina Limb Preservation Program
The Importance of Podiatric Health for Diabetes and PAD

If you’re among the tens of millions of Americans living with diabetes or peripheral artery disease (PAD), you may not be aware of one of the biggest threats to your overall health. Hint: It’s nothing to do with your internal organs. It’s your feet.

“But I get around fine, without any discomfort,” you might be thinking. Well, unfortunately the majority of those who have diabetes will at some point experience lower-extremity neuropathy—tingling and numbness in the feet. Some of these individuals literally will not be able to feel their feet. They don’t realize it, so they walk around wearing a hole in the bottom of their foot. Continued, painless walking rubs the wound further, and it continues to get worse. If not addressed, the wound (which you may not even know you have) can eventually become infected and require surgical intervention. In the very worst cases, this might mean amputation of the toes, foot, or even the leg.

“That hasn’t happened to anyone I know,” you might be thinking. But I have some sobering statistics. Every 1.2 seconds, someone somewhere in the world develops a diabetic foot wound. More than half of these wounds become infected, requiring some form of hospitalization. And nearly 20% of these cases end with amputation.

The good news is there are educational and medical resources available to help you stay on top of your foot health! Self-administered “diabetic foot exams” can be performed at home with minor direction, so ask your medical provider.

There are also community resources, including foot screening clinics held by facilities such as Casa Colina. These exams typically take just a few minutes and are performed by a podiatrist or specially trained nurse who examines the dermatological, neurological, musculoskeletal, and vascular health of your feet.

If you suspect you already have a serious foot wound, ask your primary care doctor for referral to a podiatrist or a physician specializing in wound care. These doctors can determine what level of care you might need, including orthotics, prosthetics, podiatric or vascular surgical intervention, physical therapy, or hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

The best thing you can do is to stop the process before it starts. If you have diabetes, ask your doctor about a foot health screening today, and learn how to spot and prevent problematic wounds that may develop. It may just save your limb—and your life.

Casa Colina Hospital and Centers for Healthcare hosts free monthly foot health screenings at both its Pomona and Azusa locations. For patients who require medical care for a foot wound, the Casa Colina Limb Preservation Program offers comprehensive services including podiatric surgery, wound care, diagnostic imaging, hyperbaric and physical therapies, and state-of-the-art surgical services—all available on its 20-acre Pomona campus. To register for a screening, or for more information, call 909/596-7733, ext. 2285.