Since the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, podiatrists have seen some of the sickest patients of their careers.
But these patients aren’t suffering from COVID. Instead, concerned about exposure to the virus, they have delayed regular care and avoided treatment for injuries, resulting in serious diabetic foot wounds, gangrene, and even risk of sepsis, a life-threatening systemic infection.
“People with diabetes are absolutely right to take precautions against exposure to COVID-19,” said Seth Rubenstein, DPM, president of the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA). “They are at high risk of the virus, and they should wear masks in public, maintain social distance, and avoid unnecessary opportunities for exposure. But they should not avoid their regular diabetes care.”
Many APMA member podiatrists are reporting higher-than usual numbers of amputations since the pandemic began. “When patients with diabetes avoid preventive care or ignore injuries, the risk of a limb-threatening infection is huge,” said Dr. Rubenstein. “If they delay seeking care from their podiatrist for too long, the infection and resulting tissue death can make an amputation unavoidable.”
The good news? There are ways to take control of your diabetes and safeguard your health during the pandemic.
People with diabetes are encouraged to follow three simple steps to protect their feet during the COVID-19 pandemic:
- STAY ACTIVE.
Get proper nutrition and exercise. Consider physical activity a prescription to be taken daily!
- STAY ALERT.
Track your daily blood sugar levels and your A1C. Perform daily foot exams (a caregiver or family member can help) to look for any changes to your feet, including color, temperature, and even minor injuries such as scratches and scrapes. Protect your feet with shoes even around the house to avoid injuries.
- STAY IN CONTACT.
Keep up with all appointments with your diabetes care team and reach out to your podiatrist immediately if you notice a wound, injury, or other changes to your feet.
Visiting your podiatrist’s office during the pandemic to maintain regular care is a low-risk proposition. Avoiding care out of fear, however, presents significant health risks including amputation and even death.
Our office follows strict protocols to protect our patients and staff. Some steps we are taking:
- WEARING ADDITIONAL PPE
Personal protective equipment (PPE) is critical to protecting patients and providers from exposure.
- MAINTAINING SOCIAL DISTANCING
We are making significant efforts to promote social distancing in the waiting room.
- IMPLEMENTING STRICT DISINFECTION PROTOCOLS
The Environmental Protection Agency has issued guidelines for disinfecting businesses. We are disinfecting frequently touched surfaces between patients.
Regular care to maintain your foot health and overall health is essential, particularly in light of the pandemic. Don’t neglect your regular care out of fear of COVID-19. Keep your appointment, and keep your feet!
Please call our office if you have any concerns or questions.