What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a condition in which the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood is too high.
There are two common forms of Diabetes:
Type 1 which requires daily insulin injections. This type of diabetes is commonly affects children and young adults.
Type 2 diabetes mellitus is by far the most commonly and affects the majority of people over the age of 40. Type 2 diabetes mellitus can be controlled by either diet/exercise, tablets or insulin depending on your requirements.
How diabetes can affect your feet
Your feet are supplied with blood to keep them healthy. They also have lots of small nerves that act as an emergency warning system. For example, if you have a stone in your shoe, nerves will send a message to your brain to tell you that you have something in your shoe. However, if your diabetes is poorly controlled for a long period of time, this may lead to:
Nerve Damage, or Peripheral Neuropathy, which impairs sensation to the feet and cause a loss of protective sensation. Therefore that stone in your shoe or damage to your foot might not be felt. This may injure your foot, leading to a foot ulcer, possible foot infection and or amputation.
If you diabetes is poorly controlled it can increase your risk of developing Reduced Blood Supply, also known as poor circulation or peripheral vascular disease. If you have poor circulation, any injuries or infections to your feet (i.e. cuts, burns or scratches) will take longer to heal. This is due to less blood flowing into the arteries in your feet. Blood provides energy to working muscles and aids in healing any tissue damage. If you have poor circulation, you will need to take extra care to protect your feet from injury. Most foot problems in people who have diabetes occur when injuries — and often infections – go unnoticed and untreated, or when healing is delayed due to poor circulation.
How can I detect any changes early?
An annual foot assessment by your podiatrist will help to detect any changes early — before they become a problem.
At Active Podiatry we will examine your circulation by feeling foot pulses and using a hand held doppler ultrasound machine to determine whether you have any problems with blood flow. We will also examine sensation by testing vibration and pressure sensitivity as well as looking for foot conditions or deformities that may lead to future problems. They will work with you to show you how to monitor your own feet, in between consultations.
TO PREVENT PROBLEMS
1. Protect your feet from injury
2. Inspect your feet every day
3. See you podiatrist immediately if you have any concerns regarding your foot health
1. Maintain good blood glucose level control
2. Avoid smoking which can also increase your chance of developing poor circulation
3. Exercise regularly
4. Don't walk barefeet, especially when you have impaired sensation to your feet.
5. Keep your feet clean
6. Wear good fitting shoes (We can recommend certain shoes/styles at Active Podiatry, including our range of diabetic friendly Doctor Comfort shoes. The best type of footwera fits well and protects your feet. Ensure your shoe is deep and broad enough to accomodate your foot type, especially if you have issues with bunions or hammer toes.
7. If you have any nail issues, corns & calloues or circulation/nerve damage then you should be seeing a podiatrist on a regular basis.
Some other pointers:
1. Where possible wear lace up shoes or ones with a velcro strap or buckle.
2. Check inside your shoes or any rough edges, raised seams or exposed tacks. Regularly shake them out to make sure there is nothing inside.
3. Cotton socks
Have a REGULAR foot assessment!