There are 150 amputations nationwide every day due to diabetes complications. That equals 54,750 per year. For this reason, the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center at Penn State University in Hershey, Pa. has developed some helpful material on foot care. The following has been abstracted from its literature:
Nerve damage, or “neuropathy,” is the main cause of foot problems in people with diabetes. Fifty percent of people with diabetes develop nerve damage after approximately 20 years. Burning, pain, decreased sensation, or numbness in the legs and feet may all be symptoms of neuropathy.
This numbness allows injuries and burns to go unnoticed until they’re seen, or to be regarded as minor because they don’t hurt.
Hershey Medical Center recommends that people with diabetes take extra care in selecting footwear:
- Always have your foot measured when you buy shoes. (Shoes should be 1/4″ wider than your foot at the ball of your foot, and 1/2″ longer than your longest toe.)
- Shoes should be comfortable when you buy them. Don’t depend on them to stretch.
- Break in new shoes very slowly. Limit wearing them to less than two hours per day the first week. Gradually increase wearing time one hour per day. If you can’t change your shoes, make sure to take them off and inspect your feet every two hours.
- If you see red marks, especially on the tops and sides of your feet, and the marks don’t go away after 10-15 minutes, stop wearing the shoes. Also look for discolored areas, blisters or open areas, and darkened spots under calluses.
- Most problems occur during the first three days after the footwear has been worn on a full-time basis.
- Always wear cotton or wool socks with no elastic or holes. Never go barefoot.
This research was presented at the 22nd Annual Meeting and Educational Program of the AADE in Boston, August 1995. The original report was written by Susan Jones, BSN, RN, CDE, and Carol Koman, MEd, RN, CDE, Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism at the Hershey Medical Center, Hershey, Pa.