November is National Diabetes Month and one prominent black podiatrist has issued a warning that the illness can mean double the trouble for a sufferer’s feet.
Dr. Rondrick Williamson, spokesman for the American Podiatric Medical Association, said diabetes can reduce blood flow to the feet, making it more difficult for blisters and sores to heal.
Also, diabetic nerve damage can cause numbness and, when an individual cannot feel cuts and blisters — as is the case with most who suffer from the disease — it’s more likely that an individual will get sores and infections that go untreated, Williamson said.
“These sores can become infected and lead to amputation,” he said. “Blacks are 3.5 times more likely to be hospitalized for lower limb amputations as compared to whites. Studies show that care provided podiatrists can reduce amputation rates by as much as 85 percent.”
Fortunately, he said, a little tender loving care goes a long way in preventing foot problems from diabetes. The APMA’s November campaign, “Diabetes: A Path to Poor Circulation,” has been designed to help individuals learn about the relationship between diabetes and vascular disease.
African-Americans should take notice, Williamson said, noting that they are nearly twice as likely as whites to be diagnosed with diabetes and twice as likely to die from the chronic condition.
“Diabetic rates are higher in the African-American community because of poor diet, genetic traits, the prevalence of obesity, and insulin resistance,” he said. “African-Americans have a high rate of diabetic complications, because of poor glycemic control and racial disparities in health care.”
Since the feet is very important when it comes to the illness, some of the signs that they may need care include pain and discomfort, which are obvious warnings that something is wrong and needs attention.
Also, changes in skin color and turgor are further signs of potential foot issues, said Williamson, who completed his undergraduate studies at Clemson University with a degree in biological science.
After graduating Clemson, Williamson traveled to Cleveland, where he attended the Ohio College of Podiatric Medicine and ultimately received his doctorate.
After completing OCPM, Williamson was selected to attend the University of Texas Health Sciences Center in San Antonio, where he completed his residency training, according to his bio.
Some of Williamson’s most visible accomplishments was being a featured regular on season five and six of CBS’s Emmy-winning talk show “The Doctors.”
He was also featured in Ebony, Shape, Men’s Health and WebMD magazines and has appeared in such television and big-screen hits as “Single Ladies,” “Necessary Roughness” and Tyler Perry’s “Madea’s Witness Protection.”
Primarily, Williamson is a physician and diabetes is among the central ailments that he treats.
“Lowering your risk of foot injury is simple,” he said. “Be sure to wear appropriate footwear, make sure you have the correct size show and keep your feet protected from the elements, especially if you are diabetic. Walking barefoot is prohibited. When you suspect a problem with your feet, seek immediate attention as this will ultimately lower your risk for an adverse event.”
Williams said it’s important to conduct self-examinations of the feet.
“Check your feet daily,” he said. “Inspect for any cuts, scrapes or abrasions. Look in between the toes for excess moisture and any open sores.”
The inspection should include the bottom of the feet although it could at times be difficult to bend over that far, Williams said. He suggests using a mirror by placing it on the floor and placing feet over it.
“I recommend seeing a podiatrist every 60 to 90 days if you are diabetic with pedal symptomatology,” he said. “Diabetics without such should follow up at least once or twice a year.”
For more information, visit www.apma.org.