When it comes to a condition that can affect your mobility, it is much better to be safe, than sorry. At every visit your doctor should examine your feet. You should always remove your shoes and socks in the examining room so neither of you forget. Have your doctor examine your feet at least once a year using a monofilament, a device that tests sensation.
You should seek a doctor’s care within 72 hours if you have any significant injury to the feet or legs; persistent mild-to-moderate pain; areas of warmth, redness, or swelling on the feet or legs.
Corns, calluses, bunions, hammer toes, athlete’s foot, other skin problems, or ingrown toe nails should also be treated by a doctor, not at home.
New or constant numbness in the feet or legs can be a sign of diabetic neuropathy or poor blood circulation. This puts you at risk for serious problems, such as infections and amputations, and should be discussed with your doctor. Nerve damage can also lead to changes in the shape of your feet and toes. Ask your doctor about special therapeutic shoes, rather than trying to force deformed feet and toes into regular shoes.
Difficulty walking can result from diabetic arthritis (Charcot’s joints). Early intervention is important to preventing more serious problems, including falls, skin breakdown and infections.
- Severe pain in the feet or legs, which may be a sign of acute loss of circulation to the leg(s), serious infection or severe nerve damage.
- Any deep cut to the feet or legs that bleeds heavily needs proper cleaning and repair to aid healing.
- Any puncture wounds, such as stepping on a nail or being bitten by a dog or cat carries a high risk of becoming infected.
- Ulcers occur most often on the ball of the foot or on the bottom of the big toe. Ulcers on the sides of the foot are usually due to poorly fitting shoes. Keeping off your feet is very important. Walking on an ulcer can make it get larger and force the infection deeper into your foot. Wounds or ulcers that are more than about 1 inch across on the feet or legs should be treated immediately and are frequently associated with limb-threatening infections. Remember, some ulcers do not hurt, but you should be seen by your health care provider right away.
- Drainage of pus from a wound is usually a sign of infection. Persistent bloody drainage, red streaking away from a wound or redness spreading out from a wound is a sign of a progressively worsening infection.
- A fever higher than 101.5°F (38.6°C) in association with redness, swelling, warmth, or any wound or ulcer on the legs may be a sign of a limb-threatening or life-threatening infection.
- If you have a leg wound or foot ulcer and become confused it could be a sign of life-threatening infection that could lead to loss of a foot or leg.