Diabetes and your feet
Foot problems are a major cause of morbidity and mortality in patients with diabetes.
Diabetes can affect your feet in many ways. Peripheral neuropathy, which is nerve damage in your limbs, can be a result of diabetes. When this occurs, one might experience tingling, numbness or burning sensations in their feet and reduction in sensation. The inability to feel in your feet may prevent you from experiencing pain and discovering issues in your feet early.
Poor vascularity, or the lack of blood supply to your legs and feet, can also occur with diabetes. The reduction in the blood flow in your legs and feet may affect the growth of nails, skin colouration, and wound healing. The lack of inflammatory response (redness and swelling) during an infection may also be a result of poor vascularity in your feet.
On top of these, changes to the skin or bony structures of your feet may arise. Poor foot care management and the lack of understanding of these effects can result in the formation of diabetic foot wounds and lower limb amputations.
Preventative care is hence very important in managing the diabetic foot risks.
How can a podiatrist help?
A trained podiatrist can help monitor and detect early changes in one’s feet by conducting diabetic foot screening. Advice on diabetic foot care will also be provided for self-care, and a specialised management plan may be crafted, as necessary.
What does diabetic foot screening/check entail?
Diabetic foot screening consists of the following:
Sensation in your feet can be checked with the help of certain test instruments such as the monofilament and tuning folk. These tests help to determine whether your nerves are functioning properly.
Blood flow in your feet will be assessed for clarity, rate and rhythm of foot pulses. Monitoring your skin colour, integrity, hair growth and capillary refill time in your feet/toes will also help to determine the quality of your blood flow.
An assessment for corns, calluses, warts, ingrown toenails, and fungal infections will also be conducted. These can be treated by your podiatrist on the day of your screening. Having these issues eradicated early will reduce the presence of infections and wounds.
Structural changes such as bunion and charcot deformities can also be of concern. These bony prominences can become pressure areas that may cause blistering, calluses and wounds, which may increase your risk of catching foot infections.
Purchasing the right pair of shoes to accommodate your feet can be a challenge, and is essential in preventing foot problems. The compatibility and suitability of your shoes will be assessed, and your podiatrist will provide you with footwear advice.
How often should you have your feet checked?
People with diabetes should have their feet checked every 6-12 months by a podiatrist.
Research has shown that regular foot checks and care are beneficial in preventing diabetic wounds and lower limb amputations. So get your feet checked today by our podiatrist!