People with diabetes can develop serious problems with their
feet that can affect how easily they can walk, and even lead to
Many of these serious problems can be prevented by taking good
care of your feet and your health:
- Manage your diabetes, including keeping your blood pressure,
blood sugar (glucose) and cholesterol at levels your health care
- Don't smoke. Smoking reduces blood flow to the feet. Ask for
help to stop smoking by calling 1-800-QUIT-NOW
- Make healthy food choices.
- Stay at a healthy weight.
- Be physically active every day.
- Take your medicines even when you feel good.
- Have your doctor give you a comprehensive foot exam every time
you visit (but at least four times a year).
- Check your feet for sores and other injuries every day.
- Wear shoes that fit right and do not rub or pinch your feet, or
- Never walk barefoot or while wearing just socks.
Research shows that diabetes often causes problems
with feet and legs, and these problems can be severe.
In 2008 alone, more than 70,000 people with diabetes had a leg
or foot amputated. Amputations in people with diabetes account for
more than 60% of the amputations of legs and feet not resulting
from an injury, such as from a car crash. People with diabetes were
eight times as likely to lose a leg or foot to amputation as people
without diabetes, according to CDC research.
How Diabetes Can Hurt Your Feet
These are some of the ways that diabetes can harm your feet:
- Diabetes reduces blood flow to certain areas of the body,
especially limbs such as the legs, which makes it harder for your
body to heal injuries.
- Diabetes nerve damage may cause you to no longer feel pain in
your feet, and you may not realize you have a wound or injury that
Diabetic nerve damage appears to be more common in people with
the following conditions:
- Problems controlling blood sugar levels
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Older than 40 years
If you experience any of these symptoms, contact your
health care provider or a podiatrist (foot doctor) right away.
- You may feel pain in your legs or cramping in your buttocks,
thighs, or calves during physical activity.
- Your feet may tingle, burn, or hurt.
- You may lose the sense of touch or not be able to feel heat or
cold very well.
- The shape of your feet may change over time.
- The color and temperature of your feet may change.
- You may lose hair on your toes, feet, and lower legs.
- The skin on your feet may become dry and cracked.
- Your toenails may turn thick and yellow.
- Fungus infections such as athlete's foot may appear between
- You may experience blisters, sores, ulcers, infected corns, and
Links to Foot Health Resources
The National Diabetes Education Program, an
initiative of CDC and the National Institutes of Health, provides
several Web pages and publications with helpful information on foot
care and diabetes care:
CDC's Division of Diabetes Translation offers more
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