Managing Diabetic Feet
Having diabetes means you’re at much greater risk of developing foot problems.
Peripheral vascular disease is the number #1 cause of lower limb amputation in people who suffer with diabetes.
Diabetic sufferers are also 25% more at risk of developing a foot ulceration in their lifetime.
The GOOD NEWS is that both can be prevented with a:
Healthy Diet & Activity
Daily Home Foot Check
Professional Diabetic Assessment
Image Credit - The Lancet
The foods you eat not only make a difference to how you manage your diabetes, but also to how well you feel and how much energy you have.
A well balanced diet and regular exercise will control your blood sugar levels and reduce cholesterol which unregulated can lead to peripheral vascular disease.
Daily Foot Check
A daily home foot check may sound tedious and unnecessary, but it can make all the difference between developing a foot ulcer or not. A 2 min check of your feet & footwear will prevent common foot conditions such as corns, calluses or ingrown nails manifesting as wounds that could further ulcerate.
People with diabetes are at higher risk from a variety of foot health problems. Our registered podiatrists assess patients with diabetes for these problems, which include infection, injury, nerve damage and poor circulation.
The Daily Foot Check
Check your feet every day for cuts, redness, swelling, sores, blisters, corns, calluses, or any other change to the skin or nails. Use a mirror if you can’t see the bottom of your feet, or ask a family member to help.
Wash your feet every day in warm (not hot) water. Don’t soak your feet. Dry your feet completely and apply lotion to the top and bottom—but not between your toes, which could lead to infection.
Never go barefoot. Always wear shoes and socks or slippers, even inside, to avoid injury. Check that there aren’t any stones or other objects inside your shoes and that the lining is smooth.
Wear shoes that fit well. For the best fit, try on new shoes at the end of the day when your feet tend to be largest. Break in your new shoes slowly—wear them for an hour or two a day at first until they’re completely comfortable. Always wear socks with your shoes.
Trim your toenails straight across and gently smooth any sharp edges with a nail file. Consult our podiatrists if you cant trim your toenails, see or reach your feet.
Don’t remove corns or calluses yourself, and especially don’t use over-the-counter products to remove them—they could burn your skin.
What happens at a Diabetic Feet assessment?
Our podiatrist will ask questions about your diabetes diagnosis and any previous problems you’ve had with your feet. They will take a full medical, medicinal and lifestyle history to get a clear understanding of how diabetes has affected your general health and the risk to your foot health.
Dermatological / Joint Assessment
Our podiatrist will:
• Look for various skin problems, including dryness, cracking, calluses, blisters, and ulcers.
• Check the toenails for cracks or fungal infection.
• Check between the toes for signs of a fungal infection.
• Look for abnormalities in the shape and structure of your foot.
• To check your circulation our podiatrist will listen the arterial flow of blood to your feet using a painless machine called a Doppler Ultrasound.
• The blood that is returned to the heart and lungs is carried by the veins. The health of the veins are assessed by looking for varicosed vessels, water retention and skin tone.
• The blood pressure at the wrist and ankle is sometimes taken to assess for abnormal blood pressures.
These are a series of tests that include:
• Monofilament test. Our podiatrist will brush a soft nylon fibre called a monofilament over your foot and toes to test your foot’s sensitivity to touch.
• Tuning fork and visual perception tests (VPT). The podiatrist will place a tuning fork or other device against your foot and toes to see if you can feel the vibration it produces.
• Pinprick test. Our podiatrist will gently poke the bottom of your foot with a small pin to see if you can feel it.
• Ankle reflexes. We will check your ankle reflexes by tapping on your foot with a small reflex hammer to assess your motor function.
• Excess friction and loading can result in high pressure points that can lead to ulceration. Our podiatrists will assess your risk of ulceration by taking a pressure reading using a RS Scan or Carbon Transfer footprint.
Once all the test are completed and the lifestyle, medical and medication history is taken into account our podiatrist will advise a management plan with the aim of keeping your feet healthy and risk free. The management plan may include an annual diabetic check, treatment of presenting problems, off loading insoles, footwear advice and a GP referral if appropriate.
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