Foot Complications


Taking good care of your feet prevents serious complications.

  • Get regular foot exams that test for any nerve damage
  • Wash, dry and inspect your feet each day
  • Wear shoes and socks that fit
  • Control your blood glucose

Foot problems are caused by neuropathy, poor circulation or a combination of both. The loss of feeling that comes with neuropathy is especially dangerous, as you may not be aware of cuts, blisters and bruises. The loss of sensation can change the way you walk or can damage bones and joints. Delays in treatment can lead to serious problems. Poor blood circulation means that less oxygen and fewer white blood cells that fight infection can get to a wound. It also means that antibiotic treatments that travel through the bloodstream are not as effective because they cannot get to the tissue in proper concentrations.

Foot problems

Foot problems include:

  • Changes in sensation from severe pain to numbness
  • Increased likelihood of infection (bacterial and fungal)
  • Slow wound healing
  • Deformation of the joints (Charcot joints, hammertoes, bunions, fallen arches)


  • If you have foot problems, consult a doctor right away. Early diagnosis can make a dramatic difference. Treatment for infection includes antibiotics and regular wound dressing. Impaired circulation sometimes can be helped by blood vessel bypass. This procedure also may help heal wounds and ulcers in combination with skin or tissue growth factors.
  • Unfortunately, in advanced cases of poor circulation and uncontrolled infection, amputation may be necessary, usually just a toe or part of a bone is removed. In the most severe cases, it may necessary to remove part of the foot or leg.

It is important to:

  • Get regular foot exams that test for any nerve damage
  • Not go barefoot
  • Not use sharp objects or over-the-counter chemical treatments such as corn/wart removers
  • Not use excessively hot water, electric blankets or heating pads, hot water bottles
  • Not smoke
  • Wash, dry and inspect your feet each day
  • Check between your toes
  • Wear shoes and socks that fit
  • Make sure there is nothing sharp or irritating in your shoes
  • Report corns and calluses and injuries that don’t heal to your medical provider
  • Cut toenails straight across and not too close to the quick; this will help prevent ingrown nails and associated infections
  • Control your blood glucose


Self-assessment Quiz

Self assessment quizzes are available for topics covered in this website. To find out how much you have learned about  Diabetes Complications, take our self assessment quiz when you have completed this section.  The quiz is multiple choice. Please choose the single best answer to each question. At the end of the quiz, your score will display. If your score is over 70% correct, you are doing very well. If your score is less than 70%, you can return to this section and review the information.

©2007-2020 Collective work Martha Nolte Kennedy,
The Regents of the University of California.
All rights reserved.