Diabetic Footcare

Do you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes and want your feet kept in the best possible condition?

Diabetic Footcare

Do you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes and want your feet kept in the best possible condition?

Diabetes is a chronic medical condition that can have a major impact on a person’s health, including their feet. When diabetes is uncontrolled, it can lead to nerve damage and poor circulation, which can result in a variety of foot problems. Podiatrists play a critical role in the care of patients with diabetes by providing regular foot exams and specialized treatment to prevent and manage foot complications. By taking a proactive approach to foot care and working closely with their healthcare team, people with diabetes can minimize the risk of developing serious foot problems.

What is Diabetes Mellitus?

Diabetes Mellitus is a metabolic disorder characterised by inadequate control of the blood levels of glucose. There are many subclassifications of diabetes including Type 1 Diabetes and Type 2 Diabetes but ultimately they have the same impacts on your feet when poorly managed.

Our podiatrists are medically trained professionals who are experts when it comes to diabetic footcare. We treat providing the highest standard of care to ensure your feet stay as healthy as they can to reduce the risk of diabetic foot complications from occurring.

How Does Diabetes Affect the Feet?

People with diabetes are at increased risk of developing a number of foot problems, including neuropathy (nerve damage), poor circulation, reduced blood flow, foot ulcers, infections, and Charcot foot (a condition that affects the bones and joints in the foot). Neuropathy can cause a loss of sensation in the feet, making it difficult to detect injuries or damage. Poor circulation and reduced blood flow can impact the bodies healing process, making it more difficult to fight infections and recover from injuries. Due to reduced sensation and reduced blood flow, foot ulcers and infections are also more common in people with diabetes. Left untreated these issues can lead to serious complications including amputation.

Role of a Podiatrist in Diabetic Footcare?

Podiatrists play a critical role in the care of patients with diabetes by providing regular foot exams, specialised treatment for foot complications, and education on proper foot care techniques. During a foot exam, a podiatrist will check for signs of neuropathy, poor circulation, foot deformities, and skin problems. They may also recommend specialised footwear or insoles to help protect the feet and prevent injuries. In cases where foot problems have already developed, a podiatrist can provide treatment to help manage symptoms and prevent further damage.

Dangers of Neglecting Feet

Neglecting foot care when you have diabetes can be extremely dangerous. Even minor injuries, such as blisters or cuts, can lead to serious complications like infections or ulcers. These complications can spread to the bone, which can require surgery or even amputation. Additionally, untreated foot problems can also cause balance and mobility issues, which can increase the risk of falls and other accidents. To avoid these dangers, it is critical to practice good foot care and see a podiatrist regularly for foot exams and treatment.

Signs and Symptoms

Some common signs and symptoms of diabetes-related foot problems include numbness or tingling in the feet, burning or sharp pain, changes in skin color or texture, foot ulcers or sores, and toenail fungus. It is important to pay attention to any changes in the feet and report them to a healthcare provider right away. Prompt treatment can help prevent more serious complications.

Causes and Risk Factors

The primary cause of diabetes-related foot problems is uncontrolled blood sugar levels, which can lead to nerve damage and poor circulation. Other risk factors include smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and a family history of foot problems. Additionally, people who are overweight or have had diabetes for a long time may be at increased risk of developing foot complications.

Prevention and Treatment

Prevention is always the best approach to managing diabetic foot problems. Prevention should be started as soon as you are diagnosed with diabetes. The key to preventing diabetic foot problems is to control your blood sugar levels, maintain good foot hygiene, and regularly check your feet for any changes. The following are some steps to prevent foot problems in diabetic patients:

  • Maintain normal blood sugar levels: Uncontrolled blood sugar levels can cause nerve damage and poor circulation. This can lead to foot problems. Control your blood sugar levels through diet, exercise, and medication.
  • Keep feet clean and dry: Wash your feet daily with warm water and mild soap. Dry your feet thoroughly, especially between the toes.
  • Wear shoes and socks: Always wear shoes and socks that fit properly. Look for shoes that have a wide and deep toe box to prevent crowding of toes. Wear clean, dry socks made of breathable materials.
  • Avoid going barefoot: Walking barefoot increases the risk of injury to the feet, especially if you have decreased sensation in your feet.
  • Trim toenails carefully: Trim your toenails straight across and file any sharp edges. Do not cut the corners of your toenails or dig into the sides of your nails. This can cause ingrown toenails.
  • Check your feet daily: Check your feet for any changes such as cuts, sores, blisters, swelling, or redness. Use a mirror or ask someone to help you check the soles of your feet.

If you have a diabetic foot problem, the treatment will depend on the severity and type of problem. Treatment may include:

  • Antibiotics: Antibiotics are used to treat infections that may occur in diabetic foot problems.
  • Debridement: Debridement is the removal of dead tissue from wounds or ulcers. This promotes healing and prevents infection.
  • Dressings: Dressings may be used to cover and protect wounds or ulcers.
  • Orthotics: Orthotics are devices such as shoe inserts, foot pads, and ankle braces that can help improve foot function and relieve pressure on certain areas of the foot.
  • Surgery: Surgery may be necessary for severe diabetic foot problems such as infections or foot deformities

Foot Care Tips For Diabetics

For people with diabetes, maintaining optimal foot health and avoiding complications starts by having a multidisciplinary team manage their health, inclusive of our experienced podiatrists who will recognise and address any signs and symptoms of complications before serious issues occur.

Other foot care tips for those with diabetes include:

  • Monitoring blood sugar levels by checking their daily blood glucose levels.
  • Regularly having their HbA1c checked (every three months).
  • Routinely assess the feet for foreign bodies, cuts, blisters, discolouration, tingling, and changes to the toenails (including signs of infection).
  • Avoid walking barefoot.
  • Ensure appropriate fitting of all footwear.
  • Routinely have an experienced podiatrist assess their neurovascular statis (the health of nerves and blood vessels in the feet).
  • Seek assistance from an experienced podiatrist to advise on medical grade footwear if foot deformities are present.
  • Seek assistance from an experienced podiatrist to have accommodative footbeds (orthotics) designed to redistribute pressure away from any “at risk” areas of pressure beneath the foot.
  • Regularly have their feet treated by an experienced podiatrist to remove any corns, calluses, thick skin, cracked heels, ingrown or problematic toenails, fungal infections, and/or foreign bodies.
  • Maintain skin hydration via the regular application of moisturiser.

When to see a Podiatrist for Diabetic Footcare

It is important for people with diabetes to regularly see a podiatrist to help prevent complications associated with the diabetic foot. Podiatrists are lower limb specialists with extensive knowledge and medical training that treat all complications both simple and complex of the lower limb and play an integral role in diabetic foot care. Our podiatrists provide regular foot examinations and treatment inclusive of routine neurovascular assessments to asses risk and develop health plans aimed to avoid or manage lower limb complications.

Neurovascular assessments are conducted to classify a patient’s risk of ulceration, amputation, and other diabetic related complications of the foot. A podiatrist will use the information from a neurovascular assessment to help take the appropriate measures to prevent diabetic foot complications from occurring. By regularly visiting a podiatrist the diabetic population significantly reduces the risk of developing conditions such as peripheral neuropathy (loss of sensation), peripheral arterial disease (poor circulation), wounds, and infection. Thus, helping to avoid serious issues such as lower limb amputation.

If you notice any changes in your feet or experience any foot problems, you should see a podiatrist immediately. The following are some signs that you should see a podiatrist:

  • Any changes in the colour or temperature of your feet
  • Numbness or tingling in your feet
  • Pain in your feet or legs
  • Swelling or sores on your feet that are not healing
  • Ingrown toenails
  • Corns or calluses that are painful or increasing in size
  • Cracks or dryness in the skin on your feet

If you are among the diabetic population and would like to take control of your foot health, let us help you by creating a diabetic foot care plan to ensure you keep those feet healthy for years to come. Simply click below to schedule an appointment and trust that your feet are in great hands with our experienced Sydney based podiatrists.

Summary

Diabetes can have a significant impact on foot health, and it is important for diabetic patients to take extra care of their feet to prevent complications. A podiatrist plays an important role in the management of diabetic foot problems. By maintaining normal blood sugar levels, keeping feet clean and dry, wearing proper footwear, regularly checking your feet, and having routine consultations with a podiatrist, you can prevent diabetic foot problems. If you experience any changes in your feet or have foot problems, it is important to see a podiatrist immediately to prevent further complications.

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FAQ's

The diabetic foot ulcer refers to an area on your feet with broken skin, often occurring over bony prominences and is secondary to nerve damage and or poor circulation caused by diabetes. They can occur from injury, pressure, inadequate footwear, and can lead to detrimental impacts on one’s lower limb health. They are the largest cause of non-trauma related lower limb amputation and our experienced podiatrists play a pivotal role in preventing diabetic foot ulcers from occurring.

It is important to take care of your feet as people with diabetes are at a greater risk of developing infections, foot ulcers and lower limb amputations.  As the nerve sensation and blood supply to the lower limb is heavily reduces, so much as a small cut can lead to serious consequences. The body is unable to detect the cut, heal it and fight infection. Foot ulcerations and infections are a substantial contributor to the physical, physiological, and financial burden in the diabetic population. These complications are highly preventable with the right care from both our experienced podiatrists, and your at home care, which together reduce these burdens and help save your toes, feet and legs from diabetic complications.

Foot deformities such as bunions and hammer toes, calluses and corns, numbness and tingling, dry cracked feet are some of the warning signs that there may be diabetic foot complications occurring. Leg cramps, loss of or change in skin colour in lower limb and nail changes may also indicate diabetic foot problems. As diabetics lose the pain receptors in their feet, and lose the ability to monitor them, it may become difficult to note the different warning signs of foot problems developing, making it essential to be evaluated and cared for by experienced podiatrists. 

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