How does Diabetes affect feet?

What is Diabetes?

According to Diabetes Australia, diabetes is a chronic condition whereby the body in order to work properly needs to convert glucose (sugar) from food into energy. A hormone called insulin is essential for this conversion.

According to the Australian Diabetets Council,  'approximately 3.6 million Australians have diabetes or pre-diabetes. Worldwide – 366 million people have diabetes.

Diabetes has increased 300% in the last ten years.

There are two common types of diabetes:

Type 1 diabetes also known as Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus (IDDM). This type commonly affects children and young adults. IDDM is controlled using insulin injections as well as diet and exercise.

Type 2 diabetes also known as non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM). This is the more common type and affects people over the age of 40 years. NIDDM is controlled with diet control, exercise and in some cases prescription medications.

How can diabetes affect your foot health?

Your feet are supplied with blood through the peripheral vascular system containing rich nutrients to keep them healthy. It is reported that your Feet also have approximately 7800 nerves that act as a sensory warning system,  enabling you to feel hazardous sharp objects and respond appropriately via reflexes.

If your diabetes is not controlled for an extended period of time this can lead to:

  • Peripheral vascular disease or diminished blood supply or circulation leaving the feet feeling cold.
  • Peripheral neuropathy or nerve damage which diminishes the sensation or feeling of the feet or feeling numb.

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What to look for?

  • Numbness, pain, tingling or burning sensation in the feet
  • Bruises
  • Poor healing of wounds
  • foot deformities
  • Cracks/splits in the skin
  • Dry Skin
  • pain in calves with exercise
  • Swelling in only foot or leg
  • Corns and Calluses
  • Ingrown toe nails
  • Hot/Cold spots on the skin
  • Discolourations
  • Tinea, itching of the feet

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Essentially ANYTHING that is not normal or that was not there yesterday

What can you do to identify changes early?

An annual assessment by the Hollie & Lukasz at Drummoyne will help to detect any changes early. Ask your general practitioner for a Medicare referral prior to your appoint

Both podiartists, Hollie and Lukasz, as part of your assessment will examine your circulation by palpating your foot pulses and in some instances use ultrasonic doppler machine or ultrasound blood flow detector to record the blood velocities if necessary. Our podiatrists will also make note of the skin condition, the colour, hair distribution and the temperature of the foot. After assessing your foot and leg health we will make recommendations to improve on minimize complications such as ulcers

Our podiatrists will also examine the foots sensation by using sharp and blunt touch tests as well as a monofilament which examines fine pressure over the skin as well as the foots reflexes.

Hints to maintain healthy feet for people with diabetes:

  • Loot at your feet EVERY DAY - on the top and the bottom, look and feel in between your toes and heel area.
  • Ensure that your blood sugar levels are within the range advised for you by dietary changes and monitoring.
  • Encourage good blood circulation by walking/exercising regularly.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Choose footwear, which is appropriate for your fit and activity – avoid barefoot walking especially on hot sand or concrete.
  • Check your shoes regularly for any excess wear on the outside or for any rough spots within the lining.
  • Blisters, cuts and scratches should be cleansed with saline solution or antiseptic. Cover the wound with a sterile dressing and seek the advice from our podiatrist as soon as possible.
  • Self prescribed over-the-counter products such as, corn cures or corn pads can do more damage such as blisters and ulcers, as they are caustic-based (acid).
  • Picking at or aggravating corns and calluses can also cause infection.
  • Inspect your feet daily for any sign of redness, swelling or pain. If you detect anything unusual seek the opinion of our podiatrists as soon as possible. Regular visual foot checks are vital for foot health.
  • Diabetes Australia recommends that people with diabetes should visit a podiatrist at least once every twelve months for a check up and maintenance.