Back to Ask the Diabetes Team Ask the Diabetes Team

From Claremore, Oklahoma, USA:

I am trying to help a friend who has degenerative foot disease related to his diabetes, and I need to understand what exactly is involved here and what treatment, if any, is possible. What can you tell me about foot diseases associated with diabetes?


When foot disease associated with bone deterioration begins to develop, you usually have a patient with long-standing diabetes. Multiple issues come in to play.

First, there is likely to be diabetic neuropathy in which the nerves do not work well, and the patients do not have good sensation, even to tissue damaging injuries. With further use, the bone continues to deteriorate, even though the patient does not feel it. In addition, the healing process is compromised by poor local blood flow. This would also compromise antibiotic delivery to an infected site.

Finally, good blood sugar control is required for the body's immune system to work well. By the time bone disease is present, patients may require more dramatic treatments to improve their situation. It may not be possible to completely heal the bones back to normal. First, the patient should have the foot unloaded. This means staying off the foot for weeks to months.This is very hard to do, but is very often necessary. Second, special shoes and orthotic devices are needed to distribute weight more evenly and avoid areas of pressure over areas where skin is breaking down. Finally, the nerve function usually does not recover once it is gone. This means patients have to be more conscious of conditions, activities, shoes that can cause problems. Infection needs to be avoided by obtaining good blood sugar control and aggressive treatment of minor skin abrasions. This means looking at the feet every day for the rest of the patient's life.


Original posting 29 Jun 2001
Posted to Complications


  Back to Ask the Diabetes Team Return to the Top of This Page

Last Updated: Tuesday April 06, 2010 15:09:22
This Internet site provides information of a general nature and is designed for educational purposes only. If you have any concerns about your own health or the health of your child, you should always consult with a physician or other health care professional.

This site is published by T-1 Today, Inc. (d/b/a Children with Diabetes), a 501c3 not-for-profit organization, which is responsible for its contents. Our mission is to provide education and support to families living with type 1 diabetes.
By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use, Legal Notice, and Privacy Policy.
© Children with Diabetes, Inc. 1995-2018. Comments and Feedback.