What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is the inability to manufacture or properly use insulin, and it impairs the body's ability to convert sugars, starches and other foods into energy. The long-term effects of elevated blood sugar (hyperglycemia) can lead to serious damage to the eyes, heart, kidney, nerves and feet. According to the American Diabetes Association, diabetes affects the lives of nearly 29 million people in the United States and nearly eight million don't even know they have the disease yet. 

While there is no cure for diabetes, there is hope. With proper diet, exercise, medical care and careful management at home, a person with diabetes can avoid the most serious complications and enjoy a full and active life. Today's podiatrist plays a key role in helping patients manage diabetes successfully and avoid foot-related complications. 


Diabetes warning signs include the following: 

  • skin color changes, 
  • swelling of the foot or ankle, 
  • numbness in the feet or toes, 
  • pain in the legs, 
  • open sores on the feet that are slow to heal, 
  • ingrown and fungal toenails, 
  • bleeding corns and calluses, 
  • dry cracks in the skin, especially around the heel. 

Visit a Podiatrist 

Because diabetes is a disease affecting many parts of the body, successful management requires a team approach. Podiatrists are an integral part of the treatment team and have documented success in preventing amputations*: 

  • More than 65,000 lower limbs are amputated annually due to complications from diabetes. 
  • After an amputation, the chance of another amputation within three to five years is as high as 50 percent. 
  • Including a podiatrist in your diabetes care can reduce the risk of lower limb amputation up to 85 percent and lowers the risk of hospitalization by 24 percent.  

*Source: APMA

The keys to amputation prevention are early recognition and regular foot screenings performed by a podiatrist, the foot and ankle expert. 


Take Action 

If you have diabetes, follow these foot care tips: 

  • Inspect feet daily. Check your feet and toes every day for cuts, bruises, sores, or changes to the toenails, such as thickening or discoloration. 
  • Wear thick, soft socks. Avoid socks with seams, which could rub and cause blisters or other skin injuries. 
  • Exercise. Walking can keep weight down and improve circulation. Be sure to wear appropriate athletic shoes when exercising. 
  • Shoes that fit. Have new shoes properly measured and fitted. Foot size and shape may change over time. Shoes that fit properly are important to those with diabetes. 
  • Don't go barefoot. Don't go without shoes, even in your own home. The risk of cuts and infection is too great for those with diabetes. 
  • Avoid self-removal. Never try to remove calluses, corns, or warts by yourself. Over-the-counter products can burn the skin and cause irreparable damage to the foot for people with diabetes. 
  • See a podiatrist. Regular checkups by a podiatrist—at least annually—are the best way to ensure that your feet remain healthy. 

YOU Can Outsmart Diabetes! 

Of the more than 29 million people in the U.S. with diabetes, about half, will develop neuropathy - a loss of feeling in the lower extremities. This nerve damage means an open sore or injury on the foot may go unnoticed until it becomes infected, which can eventually lead to the need for partial or full amputation of the foot or lower leg. In fact, diabetes is the leading cause of non-traumatic lower-limb amputation. 

However, while the risk of foot complications may be frightening, there are many ways in which YOU can help outsmart diabetes! 

Take a step in the right direction by having your feet checked regularly by a podiatrist. Podiatrists are the most qualified doctors to care for your feet, based on their education, training, and experience! When you add a podiatrist to your health-care team, he or she can provide you with important information so you're able to better manage the effects of diabetes on your feet. 

Whether you've recently been diagnosed or have been fighting the disease for years, the resources below will help you to monitor your feet and prevent complications. 


Podiatric Treatment Saves Limbs, Lives & Money 

In 2017, the New York State Podiatric Medical Association (NYSPMA) commissioned a study by Navigant Consulting in response to New York State’s Medicaid reform to advocate for the value of podiatric services to meet New York’s healthcare goals. The NYSPMA study focused on four chronic conditions, including diabetes, obesity, substance abuse/back pain, and fall prevention. The findings were published in the white paper titled, “Podiatric Services Deliver Value and Improved Health Outcomes.”
Podiatric Services Improve Health Outcomes and Cost Savings for Conditions
Identified in New York Value-Based Payment and Population Health Initiatives

The potential to reduce approximately

13,500 inpatient admissions

for foot ulcers.

A savings opportunity of approximately $510 million in healthcare costs in one year.


36% reduction of falls over a 12-month period

for individuals with an increased risk of falls receiving podiatric interventions.

19% reduction in the odds of a
subsequent inpatient admission among obese persons receiving services provided by a podiatrist – avoiding up to

36,000 inpatient admissions.

A savings opportunity up to

$1.1 billion in healthcare costs.

11% reduction in the odds of an opioid drug being dispensed among persons with back pain and 28% reduction in the odds of an opioid drug being dispensed among persons with back, and podiatric-related pain diagnosis who received services performed by a podiatrist.
Podiatric services may be associated
with a reduction of opioid dispensation for 18,000 people per year.
The NYSPMA complete white paper is available upon request at info@NYSPMA.org. For more information or to find a podiatrist in New York State, visit nyfoothealth.com.


Patient Resources

An Overview 
What is diabetes? What is peripheral neuropathy? What is a diabetic foot ulcer?

Additional information is available from the American Diabetes Association.


Featured Videos

Podiatrists play an integral role on your diabetes care team and are often the first to spot vascular disease. A podiatrist can monitor vascular disease in your lower extremities and may refer you to a vascular surgeon with advanced training in managing vascular disease if your condition warrants further treatment. Learn more ways in which patients with diabetes can take simple steps to prevent foot complications, such as vascular disease, in the following videos.

Patients with diabetes, should see a podiatrist at least twice per year. Find a podiatrist in the New York State area.

Diabetes Awareness Month