What are the Risk Factors of Diabetic Foot?

Diabetic foot may develop due to various risk factors, although the most important risk factor of diabetic foot is uncontrolled (or poorly controlled) high blood sugar level. There are several risk factors that increase the risk of developing diabetic foot such as inappropriate footwear, damage of peripheral nerves, poor circulation, trauma (including minor trauma that generally cause no problem among non diabetic normal individuals), smoking etc.

Inappropriate footwear:

Poorly fitting inappropriate shoes are very common cause of initiation of diabetic foot problems. Poorly fitting shoes may cause blisters, corns, sore spots, calluses etc. and diabetic foot symptoms develop. Diabetic individuals must wear properly fitting and soft shoes to prevent damage to feet.

Certain anatomical abnormalities of foot may also case development of diabetic foot, such as flat foot, hammertoes etc. If you have any anatomical abnormality in your foot and you are diabetic use prescription shoes or shoe inserts to prevent development of diabetic foot.

Peripheral nerve damage:

Long standing uncontrolled or poorly controlled diabetes may lead to peripheral neuropathy or damage of peripheral nerves. As a result diabetic patient may not be able to feel their feet (as well as other limbs) normally. Due to problem in feeling, a diabetic individual is at higher risk of damaging feet while walking or playing. The person also may not be able to sense minor injuries (such as minor abrasions, cuts, blisters etc.) and strain to feet properly. A normal person can easily sense if there is anything hard object inside his/her shoes and remove it immediately. But, a diabetic person with peripheral neuropathy may not be able to sense hard object inside shoe which may rub constantly and cause sore, that may initiate problems of diabetic foot.

Poor blood circulation:

Long standing uncontrolled or poorly controlled diabetes may lead to damage of blood vessels and reduce blood circulation to various parts of the body, including feet. Long-term diabetes may lead to atherosclerosis earlier and damage blood vessels. Due to damage of blood vessels, blood flow reduces and impairs normal healing process.


Smoking can damage blood vessels. Smoking also impairs normal healing process and healing is delayed even in non diabetic smokers. It is important for diabetic individuals to quit smoking to prevent complications of diabetes such as diabetic foot.


Any infection (such as fungal infection Athlete’s foot or any bacterial infection of skin of feet) of skin of feet may initiate serious problems of diabetic foot. Treat infections of foot appropriately.

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