Diabetic Foot Infections – Problems & Symptoms

Diabetic foot is a complication in the result of diabetes mellitus. Diabetes Mellitus (DM) is a metabolic chronic disease having high blood sugars in a person for a long period causing serious problems. Having several characteristics of diabetic foot, leads to diabetic foot syndrome. Problems occurring in diabetic foot syndrome includes:

  • Diabetic foot ulcers
  • Foot infections
  • Neruopathic osteoarthropathy

Problem with the feet are most common in diabetic patients. They might develop neuropathy or peripheral vascular disease of the legs that can cause foot ulceration or infections because they have a poor defense system against germs. Minor cuts or abrasions might lead to severe infections. It is important to recognise and differentiate between localised foot infections and generalised foot infections.

Localised foot infection can be identified by the redness, swelling and heat from a confined and specific area on the foot. These are linked with the neuropathic ulcers due to which the patients do not feel any pain. Diabetic neuropathy is developed in diabetic patients due to damage in the nerves which causes no feeling of pain, heat or cold. In generalised foot infection, foot as a whole can be recognised as swollen, heated and reddish substance. In this case, any surgery is possibly required to overcome the infected tissues of the foot if bones destruction is involved. Diabetes effects the flow of blood causing any cut or sore to heal longer than usual.

Complicated form of foot infection is osteomyelitis, in which bones are involved. If an ulcer size is greater than 2 cm, then there is a possibility of osteomyelitis. Early phases of osteomyelitis does not appear in the X-ray, it can be detected as a hot spot on a technetium bone scan which can be confirmed further by white cell bone scan. If osteomyelitis is not being diagnosed properly, MRI scan is the best sensitive test for such cases.

Other foot infections include athletes foot causing fungus and germs to grow in the cuts or cracks of diabetic patients. Itching, redness and cracking can be observed in athletes foot. Nails might get thicker, crumbled and discolored. A callus, build up of hard skin at the bottom of the feet or a corn, build up of hard skin at the bony area of the toe can be diagnosed in these patients. Weakened and contracted muscles of the toes cause a curled appearance known as hammer toes. Blisters, dry skin cracks, plant warts and foot ulcers are common among diabetic patients. Any infection on them causes it to heal difficultly which might lead to the complicated surgeries. Due to inability to sense pain or temperature in sensory diabetic neuropathy, most of these problems get unnoticed leading to increased risks. Around 10% of the diabetic people have developed foot ulcers because of peripheral vascular disease.

Taking care of your feet can help you to avoid these problems and overcome them. By using medications and precautionary measures common foot problems can be reduced and serious surgeries and complications can be prevented.

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by Marta | 28/10/2014