Diabetes is a complex disease which can affect multiple systems in the body. It is a chronic condition, meaning it lasts a lifetime and there is no cure. Without proper management, diabetes will cause abnormally high blood sugar levels within the body which results in the destruction of the body’s organs and tissues.
Diabetes can affect your feet in two ways. Your feet have an extensive nerve supply, which gives you sensation and acts as an emergency warning system when you are injured. Diabetes can damage the nerve endings in your feet, resulting in a loss of feeling, and increasing the risk of an injury going unnoticed.
Your feet are also supplied with blood, which is vital to healing injuries. Diabetes can cause a reduction in blood supply to your feet. If you have poor circulation, wounds or infections on your feet will take longer to heal, increasing the risk of ulceration and possible amputation.
If you have diabetes, it is vital that you inspect your feet daily to ensure any injury is treated as early as possible. It is also important to:
- protect your feet, and never walk barefoot;
- ensure you wear correct fitting and protective shoes;
- have any corns, calluses or ingrown toenails treated by your podiatrist;
- control your blood sugar levels to avoid long-term complications;
- exercise regularly, cease smoking and maintain a healthy weight;
- and have an annual foot assessment by your podiatrist.
With management, education and daily foot care, the complications of diabetes can be minimised or even prevented altogether.
Annual Foot Assessment
Each year your podiatrist will assess your feet in order to provide you with the most appropriate advice and care for your individual needs. The aim of the annual foot assessment is to identify any changes in the feet early and keep you the patient informed of your foot health. When a Podiatrist conducts a diabetic foot assessment, it will involve an assessment of the following:
- Peripheral circulation (blood flow to the feet)
- Nerve supply (feeling and reflexes)
- Structure of the foot
- Toenails and skin integrity