Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Foot Infection due to Diabetes Underlying Cause

Diabetic foot problems are caused by a number of factors:

  • Immunity: Diabetes weakens the immune system, which reduces the body's ability to fight infections.
  • Atherosclerosis: Diabetes accelerates the effects of atherosclerosis. This causes more damage to the arteries that supply blood to the feet. The arteries become narrowed, which reduces the blood supply to the feet. When a foot is injured, the blood vessels are unable to deliver oxygen, nutrients and blood cells, which are needed to prevent infection. This results in infection and slow healing.
  • Neuropathy: Diabetes causes damage to the nerves that supply feeling to the skin. When diabetic neuropathy occurs, the feet become numb. The numbness prevents a diabetic from sensing injuries to the feet. Consequently, foot injuries are more common in diabetics.

Last Updated: Dec 9, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Foot Infection due to Diabetes References
  1. Edmonds M, Foster A. The use of antibiotics in the diabetic foot. Am J Surg. 2004 May;187(5A):25S-28S. [15147988]
  2. Olson DE, Norris SL. Diabetes in older adults. Overview of AGS guidelines for the treatment of diabetes mellitus in geriatric populations. Geriatrics. 2004 Apr;59(4):18-24. [15086070]
  3. Ulbrecht JS, Cavanagh PR, Caputo GM. Foot problems in diabetes: an overview. Clin Infect Dis. 2004 Aug 1;39 Suppl 2:S73-82. [15306983]
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