About 15% of all diabetics will develop a foot ulcer at some point and up to 24% of people with a foot ulcer need an amputation. You're at extra-high risk if you're black, Hispanic, or Native American. These minority populations are two to three times more likely to have diabetes than non-Hispanic whites, and their rates of amputations are higher.
"The single most important thing that a person with diabetes can do to prevent a problem is to look at their feet every day, just as they comb their hair or brush their teeth," says Dr. Armstrong. You can use a mirror to examine your feet or have a family member check your feet for you.
Here are more tips on preventing foot problems from the National Diabetes Education Program.
- Quit smoking if you're a smoker. Smoking is considered a likely factor in diabetic foot disease.
- Be super-vigilant about your controlling your blood sugar. According to results of the United Kingdom Prospective Diabetes Study, people with type 2 diabetes who lower their blood glucose through intensive therapy are at reduced risk for neuropathy.
- Choose shoes carefully.
- Cut your toenails carefully or have someone else do it if you already have numbness.