Protect your feet: diabetic foot exams

Diabetic Foot

If you are living with diabetes, you are more likely to develop a non-healing wound on your foot. Podiatrists are an integral part of the health care for diabetics. Podiatrists recommend getting diabetic foot exams every three months to keep an eye on the foot and watch out for any conditions.

Kristen Heard, D.P.M., a LECOM Health podiatrist serving the communities of Corry, Union City, Albion, Waterford and Erie, sprained her ankle a couple of times when she played basketball in high school and had to have surgery. That experience sparked her interest in becoming a podiatrist. Now she enjoys doing ankle scopes and lateral ankle stabilization surgeries as much as she loves providing conservative, non-surgical care such as treating warts and helping elderly patients trim their toenails. In this article she speaks directly to diabetics.

What happens at a diabetic foot exam?

  • We ask you to remove your socks at every appointment so we can examine both of your feet and do a screening to check for any issues that can arise.
  • We check circulation, and we check sensation to see if you have any areas of numbness. The numbness is one of the biggest issues that can lead to amputations for diabetics.
  • If you do have numbness, we look for any pressure points, bunions, hammer toes, or anything that would put you at a higher risk for ulceration or wounds to that particular area.

Treatment options for diabetic foot exam patients

Most often, we are able to offload you by putting you into diabetic shoes to support your feet better and decrease their chance of developing any wounds to the area. There are always surgical options, too. If we do identify pressure points, we can proactively do surgery to decrease the chance of ulcerations.

A lot of people who come in to see me notice redness on the top of their toes, or their hammer toes are curling. We can either shave that bone or cut the bone and put in a pin to straighten the toe. That will take the pressure point away and decrease the chance of problems to the area.

Supportive shoe options available for diabetics

It’s always a good idea to be set up with a supportive shoe that functions well for your foot structure because it will help reduce any risk of any future foot problems, sore spots or rubbing. We are lucky to have a lot of locations in Erie County that offer diabetic shoes. And diabetic shoes typically are covered under insurance.

Some places offer adjustments for shoes you get, even with the insoles that come with them. It’s nice to have that service in case you have any issues and need to go back to the company. These stores actually look at your foot structure and fit you into an appropriate shoe.

What many people don’t realize is that a running shoe isn’t just a running shoe; it’s made with a neutral arch for people who have a pretty average foot type. Stability-type shoes are available for pronators (people with feet that are flatter and turned in); cushion-type shoes are available for supinators (people with a high arch).

For more information on foot and ankle injuries, see “Put your best foot forward: Prevent foot and ankle injuries.”

Kristen Heard, DPM

Call (814) 868-5481 to schedule a diabetic foot exam with Kristen Heard, D.P.M.