Outsmarting California's Silent Killer ~ Diabetes


November is Diabetes Awareness Month and Provides an Outstanding Opportunity to Shine the Spotlight on Diabetes, the 7th Leading Cause of Death in The Golden State - California Podiatric Medical Association

According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA) California has the largest population with diabetes and the highest costs associated with the disease at $27.6 billion annually.

With over 2.3 million California adults reporting having been diagnosed with diabetes, representing one out of every 12 adult Californians, staying one step ahead of the disease has never been more important. When patients are informed, proactive, and vigilant, it can mean the difference in saving a limb or a life.

A complex disease, diabetes can affect many parts of the body and is associated with serious complications, such as heart disease and stroke, blindness, kidney failure, and lower-limb amputation.

Diabetes can cause patients to lose sensation in their extremities, so they may not immediately notice injuries to their feet. This can cause diabetic ulcers—wounds on the feet that are slow to heal and prone to infection—which can often lead to amputation. About 60% of non-traumatic lower-limb amputations among people aged 20 years or older occur in people with diagnosed diabetes.

“For those who have diabetes or are at risk for the disease, regular checkups by a podiatric physician—at least annually—are one of the easiest ways to outsmart diabetes and prevent most foot complications,” said California Podiatric Medical Association (CPMA) President Dr. Thomas J. Elardo, a podiatric physician and surgeon, practicing in the Silicon Valley city of Los Gatos, California. “According to the American Podiatric Medical Association, including a podiatric physician in your care can reduce amputation rates by as much as 85 percent.”

The California Podiatric Medical Association provides the following tips to help Outsmart Diabetes:

  • Inspect feet daily. Check your feet and toes every day for:

• Swelling
• Injuries like blisters, bruises, cuts or sores
• Redness or any other change in the color of the skin – for example, pale, bruised, or purple skin
• Fungal buildup
• Changes to the toenails, such as thickening or discoloration
• Fluid coming from any wound
• Pain, especially if there is usually little or no feeling in the area

  • Clean feet daily. Wash them with warm (not hot) water and mild soap, but don't soak them for more than three or four minutes. Skin submerged for too long will become macerated and more vulnerable to bacteria. Be sure to dry feet gently but thoroughly, and don’t forget in between the toes.
  • Use a moisturizing cream. Apply a good moisturizer to feet nightly. Make sure it is rubbed in thoroughly, but gently.
  • 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.
  • Have new shoes properly measured and fitted. Shoes that fit properly are important to those with diabetes. Certain types of shoes, socks, and custom orthotics are created especially for those with diabetes. Medicare may pay for these shoes.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Don’t let a lack of insurance stop you. Podiatric physicians work in health clinics, in addition to private practices, treating patients. Many podiatrists may be willing to create alternative options such as payment plans.

"Including a podiatric physician in your diabetes management team—and taking an active role in your foot care—can drastically improve your chances of managing diabetes successfully,” said Dr. Elardo.

To learn more and to find a local licensed podiatric physician visit CalPMA.org.

Founded in 1912, the California Podiatric Medical Association (CPMA) is the leading and recognized professional organization for California’s doctors of podiatric medicine (DPMs). DPMs are podiatric physicians and surgeons, also known as podiatrists, qualified by their long and rigorous education, training and experience to diagnose and treat conditions affecting the foot, ankle and structures of the leg.