Diabetes is a prevalent problem that is often undertreated and neglected and can lead to severe problems in the feet and ankles. Since February is National Heart Health Month, Foot and Ankle Surgeons of New York, a podiatrist in NYC, would like to discuss how diabetes can affect your ankles and what you can do to prevent these problems from interfering with your quality of life.
Those unfamiliar with the complications associated with diabetes may be surprised to learn about the effects high blood sugar can have on the body. Long-term exposure to high blood sugar levels can cause nerve damage in your feet and ankles. The medical term used by a podiatrist in NYC for this damage is neuropathy. Unfortunately, some patients may not notice that anything is wrong until considerable nerve damage has occurred. Some of the symptoms of diabetic neuropathy can include:
- Reduced ability to feel temperature changes or pain.
- Sharp cramps or pain.
- Burning or tingling sensations.
- Sensitivity to touch.
- Foot problems like ulcers, joint pain, and infections.
Foot and ankle problems are common complications of diabetic neuropathy, but you can prevent several of these issues by maintaining good foot and ankle health. It’s essential to check your feet and ankles every day. Check for blisters, bruises, cuts, redness, and swelling. It’s also crucial to wear comfortable shoes that fit well and support your ankles.
Another prevalent ankle problem that can occur with diabetes is swelling in the feet and ankles. Excess swelling of the ankles is generally caused by fluid accumulation in the tissues. This condition is called edema. Many people experience swelling after sitting in one position for extended periods or after eating salty foods, but diabetes can also cause edema. Swollen ankles in people with diabetes are usually a result of the following factors associated with diabetes:
- Poor circulation.
- Heart problems.
- Kidney problems.
- Medication side effects.
- Venous insufficiency.
Diabetes causes the body to use insulin improperly. Insulin is secreted by the pancreas and helps your cells absorb sugar. When your body doesn’t use insulin properly, high blood sugar levels can accumulate and damage the lining of smaller blood vessels and result in poor blood circulation. When blood does not circulate properly, fluid can get trapped in the legs, ankles, and feet. If you experience swelling from diabetes, here are some ways you can manage the fluid in your ankles:
- Elevate your feet – Elevating your feet above heart level can reduce fluid retention in your lower body. You can elevate your foot while lying in bed or sitting on a couch.
- Use compression socks – Compression stockings or socks can help you maintain the right amount of pressure in your legs and improve circulation to your lower extremities.
- Stay hydrated – While drinking more water can seem counterintuitive, the more fluid you take in, the more fluid you will expel. The body also holds more fluid when you are dehydrated. Staying hydrated can help improve swelling in your ankles.
- Exercise regularly – Inactivity can increase swelling in the ankles. It’s essential to make an effort to move around as much as possible throughout the day. Exercise can help you maintain your weight, improve blood sugar, and promote blood circulation to reduce swelling.
Contact Us: Podiatrist in NYC
Manifestations of diabetes in the feet and ankles can affect all body systems, and these issues are, unfortunately, a common occurrence. Having a dedicated team to monitor your condition and advise you on treatment is essential to preserve the health of your ankles. Here at Foot and Ankle Surgeons of New York, an podiatrist in NYC, our team can help treat various conditions and help patients lead healthy and active lifestyles. To learn more about how diabetes can affect the ankles, be sure to contact our team today!