Harlingen – Do your feet ever ache? Do they ache when you walk, stand, or even when
you are lying in bed? You may have a medical issue that needs to be addressed,
especially if you suffer from diabetes. Diabetes can cause serious issues
with your feet including: problem wounds, infections, loss of blood circulation
or loss of sensation, and may even lead to an amputation if the issue
is not treated in time and with the proper medical care. April is National
Foot Health Awareness Month and the physicians and staff of the Wound
Healing Center at Harlingen Medical Center want to remind you that vigilance
and timely medical care can make a world of difference.
"April is a very appropriate time of the year to have your feet assessed
by a professional," said Mary Wallace, RN, BSN, and Director of the
Wound Healing Center at Harlingen Medical Center. "Just about everything
we do during the day involves being on our feet, so taking the time to
care for our feet is essential. A lot of these foot issues develop sometimes
without people even realizing they have a problem wound or an infection.
Sometimes the issue has developed into something serious and all because
we don't take the time to check our feet."
According to the American Podiatric Medical Association, at least 20% of
Americans suffer from a foot issue per year. It may be the shoes you are
wearing, or the foot ache may be the result of a more serious problem
such as a medical condition like diabetes or obesity.
"We offer very specific treatments for people who have serious wound
problems related to diabetes, circulatory problems, or a compromised immune
system," said Wallace. "And, just like our treatments, we have
a very specific group of podiatrists who work individually with our patients
to create the most effective and efficient treatment plans for them."
The physicians at the Wound Healing Center at Harlingen Medical Center
include: Dr. Sandra Blanco, Dr. Luis Gonzalez, Dr. Luis Maldonado, and
Dr. Luis Venegas. As part of the treatments they offer to diabetic patients,
the physicians have developed some standard guidelines for the care for
feet. Some of these guidelines include:
- Inspect your feet daily. This means thoroughly reviewing your feet with
the help of a mirror, so that you may see the bottom of your feet. Review
for any cracks, peeling, dry skin, and/or injuries of any sort. This is
especially prudent for those who suffer from diabetes. These daily inspections
will help avoid any infections or non-healing wounds from developing into
a serious issue.
- Dry your feet thoroughly. This means every time you shower, or wet your
feet, dry them with care by gently rubbing a dry towel on the top and
bottom of your feet, and in between your toes. This will help avoid fungal
infections and more. Be sure to moisturize your feet and heels with a
- Have an annual foot inspection. It is recommended that if you suffer from
diabetes that you visit your podiatrist at least once a year, so that
he/she may assess your feet and identify, if present, problem wounds,
infections, loss of blood circulation, and/or loss of sensation.
- Do not go barefoot. Feet can sometimes be highly sensitive and if you are
barefoot in public places, you may suffer cuts that may lead to an infection,
contract athlete's foot fungus or plantar warts on the bottom of your feet.
Other general guidelines include:
- Maintain a healthy weight. Healthy eating and daily exercise will help
you maintain a healthy weight. Excessive weight places too much pressure
on the feet and may lead to general foot pain, heel pain, circulatory
problems and possibly arthritis.
- Replace your walking shoes. To avoid foot and heel pain – it is important
that you replace your walking shoes every six months or 500 miles. The
shoe usually begins to lose support past either one of these marks, whichever
- Wear shoes with good support and a low heel. If you like to wear flats,
sandals, or high heels, alternate with shoes that have good arch support.
Make sure shoes have enough space without rubbing or squeezing toes.
- If you suffer a toe, foot or ankle injury, seek medical attention from
a podiatrist as soon as possible. Untreated injuries may result in bones
not healing properly and may lead to recurring pain and/or serious injury.
The Wound Healing Center at Harlingen Medical Center is staffed with clinical
staff members that are specifically trained in foot care. Led by highly
experienced podiatrists, the staff may provide you with special treatments
- Hyperbaric Oxygen (HBO) Therapy
- Skin Substitute / Graft Applications
- Vascular Evaluation
- Laboratory Evaluation
- Nutritional Management
- Pain Management
- Diabetic Education
"One of the most effective clinical tools and advanced technology
we have in our Wound Healing Center is the Sechrist H-Model Pneumatic
Hyperbaric Oxygen chamber," said Wallace. "The chambers are
highly effective in the healing process for our patients who suffer from
problematic wounds. They are designed to deliver 100% pure oxygen at two
atmospheres of pressure to the patient, which in turn improves the delivery
of blood throughout the patient's body. This delivery of blood is
what helps improve the healing process for patients; more specifically
the healing of problematic wounds."
Wallace points out that it is important to understand that the benefits
of HBO treatments come from the oxygen enriched bloodstream and not from
the oxygen's direct contact with wounds. HBO treatments greatly increases
the amount of oxygen delivered to body tissues by your blood.
In order to undergo HBO treatment, the patient must be referred by their
primary care physician or a podiatrist, and they must adhere to a physical
evaluation by one of the wound care physicians at The Wound Healing Center.
This includes extensive wound assessment, treatment based on advanced
medical methodologies, pain management, patient education and support services.
For more information about the Wound Healing Center at Harlingen Medical
Center and its services, please call (956) 365-1022, or visit