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Why do diabetics have problems with their feet?

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Quick Answer

Diabetics tend to have foot problems because high blood sugar levels cause poor blood flow and nerve damage, explains the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse. In diabetics, blisters, corns, ingrown toenails and other common foot problems can cause infections or pain.

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When blood sugar levels are too high, less blood flows to the feet and legs, states the NDIC. This makes it harder for foot problems to heal. Nerve damage sometimes causes diabetics to lose feeling in their feet, and this makes it difficult to determine if ill-fitting shoes are causing blisters. It's also hard to identify foot injuries in their early stages. As a result, blisters, sores and other injuries sometimes get infected. In some cases, nerve damage also causes foot deformities in diabetics.

One of the most serious foot problems associated with diabetes is Charcot's foot, reports the NDIC. This condition is characterized by the destruction of the soft tissue and joints of the feet. When the condition first develops, fluid collects around the joints, causing stiffness and swelling. If a person with Charcot's foot continues to walk on the foot, the condition worsens, increasing the risk of joint injuries or broken bones. A diabetic should have a thorough foot examination at least once per year to check for signs of common diabetic foot problems.

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