The Role of Insulin in Your Body and How it Affects Your Foot Health

Insulin is an essential hormone your body makes to convert food into energy by helping glucose (sugar) get into your cells. If there’s dysfunction in insulin production, your glucose levels become elevated and can cause several health complications, including problems that affect your feet.


At Alpine Foot & Ankle in Sandy and Highland, Utah, we offer diabetic foot care to prevent diabetes-related complications like nerve damage and foot ulcers.


Scott Shelton, DPM, our double board-certified foot and ankle surgeon and podiatrist, works closely with you on a care plan to keep your feet healthy and your diabetes under control.


How insulin plays a role in foot health


Elevated blood glucose levels that occur with uncontrolled diabetes can eventually damage the blood vessels in your feet. Damage occurs when high levels of glucose contribute to plaque build-up on the wall of the arteries. The plaque narrows and hardens the vessels (atherosclerosis) and prevents blood from flowing through properly.


Diabetes can also damage the nerves throughout your body, leading to a condition known as diabetic neuropathy. Damaged nerves in the feet lead to persistent tingling, weakness, or a loss of sensation. If you can’t feel blisters, cuts, or ingrown toenails when they happen, you may be at increased risk for sores, ulcers, and infections.


When diabetic foot ulcers are cared for properly, the skin on your feet can become permanently damaged or die. Tissue death (gangrene) is a serious complication that may require amputation surgery to remove your toes, feet, or a larger portion of your leg.


Self-care strategies to prevent diabetic foot complications


The first step to lower your risk for diabetic foot ulcers and other complications is to keep up with routine foot checks.


Dr. Shelton performs a thorough examination of your feet to check for issues like sores, blisters, thick calluses, and ingrown nails. He also teaches you how to check your feet at home each day for early warning signs of diabetic complications.


Early intervention of diabetes-related foot damage can improve your foot health and lower your risk for more serious complications and the need for amputation.


Other strategies you can use to prevent diabetic foot problems include:

  • Wash and dry your feet every day
  • Trim toenails straight across and file away sharp edges
  • Wear compression socks to boost blood circulation
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Always follow your diabetes treatment plan

You should also choose well-fitting, comfortable shoes to prevent friction that causes blisters and calluses. Be sure to wear shoes rather than walk barefoot to prevent cuts, abrasions, and other foot injuries.


When to seek medical care for diabetic foot issues


In between routine foot checks, you might notice changes in your feet that require medical attention.


Dr. Shelton recommends scheduling a foot evaluation if you have cuts or other skin injuries. He can prescribe an antibiotic to clear any infection and also dress your foot with bandages to prevent more serious ulcers.


Services are also available to remove painful calluses or corns, treat ingrown toenails, and address other foot conditions that can be worsened by diabetes.


If you notice the skin on your feet is turning black or you have a foul-smelling discharge, schedule an appointment at our office right away. Dr. Shelton inspects your foot to confirm or rule out gangrene and discusses what steps to take next.


Call Alpine Foot & Ankle in Sandy or Highland, Utah, today to schedule a diabetic foot evaluation or book an appointment online.


If you do not see your insurance provider, contact our office.



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