Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Foot FAQ

Question:

My mother has very bad sugar diabetes along with crippling arthritis. She can no longer cut her toenails. They've gotten so long, I'm afraid to do it. She's convinced we should just leave them alone. What's the best way to take care of this problem?

Answer:

Problems in the feet and especially the toenails of patients with diabetes are common. It's a common misconception that there's nothing that can be done about it.

You are wise to be cautious. Wounds can be very slow to heal in these patients. The risk of infection is always a concern. Improper foot and nail care can lead to severe disability. Reduced sensation, limited mobility, and poor vision are three main reasons older adults stop caring for their feet.

Correcting toenail disease is important. The best approach may be to seek the professional opinion and services of a podiatrist. A podiatrist is trained to care for problems of this type in the feet.

It may be necessary to take your mother to the foot specialist on a monthly basis. Many times insurance and Medicare will pay for these services. If they don't, the cost of this appointment compared to even one day's hospitalization makes it well worth the cash outlay. Michael B. Strauss, MD, and Stuart S. Miller, MD. Diabetic Foot Skin and Toenail Care: Debunking the Myths. In The Journal of Musculoskeletal Medicine. August 2007. Vol. 24. No. 8. Pp. 348-351.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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