(BPT) - Spring is finally here and it’s an ideal time to get outside and be more physically active. For those with diabetes, regular exercise helps increase circulation and is a critical part of staying healthy. But, before lacing up your sneakers, remember these important steps to ensure your feet are in shape:
* Get the green light from your health care provider. Discuss the type of physical activity that’s best for you and ask your provider to examine your feet. In general, your feet should be professionally examined four times each year.
* Be mindful of everyday foot care. Sometimes, people with diabetes have serious foot problems yet feel no pain. This may be due to nerve damage, a long-term complication of diabetes. Everyday self care includes inspecting your feet for scratches, cracks, cuts or blisters and washing and drying them carefully, especially between the toes.
* Wear socks and well-fitting shoes. Because of the higher risk of foot problems among those with diabetes, avoid going barefoot, even indoors. Wear socks and shoes that fit properly.
* If you do notice a problem, it may be a foot ulcer. Ulcers occur most often on the ball of the foot or on the bottom of the big toe. Ulcers may also appear on the sides of the foot. Keep in mind, while some ulcers may not hurt, every ulcer should be seen by your health care provider right away.
* Get foot ulcers treated. If you have a foot ulcer, innovative treatments can help, such as EpiFix, a wound care product from MiMedx, used extensively to rapidly and effectively heal diabetic foot ulcers. EpiFix is a dehydrated human amnion/chorion membrane allograft that delivers essential wound healing growth factors, enhances healing and reduces inflammation and scar tissue formation.
* Let it heal. If you have an ulcer, help it to heal by staying off your feet. Walking on an ulcer may worsen the problem by making the wound larger or migrating it deeper into your foot.
“Foot problems, including ulcers, are common among people with diabetes, but they don’t have to hold you back if you take the proper precautions and seek early treatment,” says Dr. Matt Garoufalis, president at Physicians Surgery Care Center, Chicago, Ill., and immediate past president of the American Podiatric Medical Association. “Before you step out to enjoy the spring weather, have your feet checked by a health care provider to make sure you’re good to go.”