Diabetes Home > Diabetic Feet
High blood glucose from diabetes can cause "diabetic feet" -- foot problems caused by nerve damage and poor blood flow. When nerve damage occurs, a person might not feel pain, heat, or cold in the legs and feet. People with diabetes need to look at their feet every day to check for cuts, sores, blisters, redness, calluses, or other problems.
Too much glucose (sugar) in the blood for a long time can cause various diabetes complications. High blood glucose (also called blood sugar) can damage many parts of the body, such as:
- The heart
- Blood vessels
- Teeth and gums
Diabetes can also cause problems with the feet. In fact, almost 30 percent of people with diabetes aged 40 years or older have impaired sensation in the feet (that is, at least one area that lacks feeling).
High blood glucose from diabetes causes two specific problems in the feet:
- Nerve damage
- Poor blood flow.
With damaged nerves in diabetic feet, you might not feel pain, heat, or cold in your legs and feet. A sore or cut on your foot may get worse because you do not know it is there. This lack of feeling is caused by nerve damage, also called diabetic neuropathy. It can lead to a large sore or infection.
Poor Blood Flow
The second problem happens when not enough blood flows to your legs and feet. Poor blood flow makes it hard for a sore or infection to heal. This problem is called peripheral vascular disease. Smoking when you have diabetes makes blood flow problems much worse.