According to Diabetes Australia, “Diabetes is the epidemic of the 21st century and the biggest challenge confronting Australia’s health system”. Around 1.2 million Australians are currently living with diabetes. That’s close to 6% of the population. Fifty thousand of these people live with diabetic foot disease.
Diabetes and foot complications
If you are living with diabetes, learning how to manage your blood glucose level is paramount, as leaving diabetes unregulated and uncontrolled can lead to many unwanted side effects, including these foot problems:
Peripheral Neuropathy – This is nerve damage caused by chronically high blood glucose levels. It is characterised by numbness, loss of protective sensation, and sometimes nerve pain in your feet, legs, or hands.
Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD) – This is a reduction in blood flow to the feet caused by calcification of the arteries supplying the lower limb. High blood glucose levels contribute to the development of PVD.
Daily diabetic foot checks can help prevent foot problems
To best avoid diabetic foot complications, here are some handy guidelines on how to perform daily foot checks:
Look for damage – Check for sores or cuts on the bottom of your feet. If you cannot reach your feet, try looking at them in a mirror or having them checked by a carer.
Assess change in feeling – Take note of any changes such as numbness, loss of feeling to touch and alterations to temperature (e.g. feet feeling excessively hot or cold to touch)
Dry your feet – Make sure you dry your feet well after washing as bacteria and fungus can form between toes in the right environment. This can cause infection.
Monitor your sugars – It is important to do this at least once daily, if not more to understand your levels before and after eating.
Ensure your toenails are attended to – Severely elongated toenails can cut into your skin and cause unwanted sores. If you cannot attend your own toenails make sure you see your podiatrist regularly to manage them.
Make smart footwear choices – Well-fitting footwear is the best way to protect your feet. Tight fitting shoes can rub certain areas and cause ulcerations. Check your feet when you take off your shoes for hot spots. If you are concerned with any high pressure areas, talk to your podiatrist, orthotics may be required to offload these areas.
Diabetics should have their feet assessed by a podiatrist
If you have diabetes and have not had your feet assessed, you should book an appointment to see one of our Melbourne podiatrists. We can evaluate your risk of complications by performing a diabetic foot assessment. These assessments are important to perform annually to monitor any changes to your condition. If you are a diabetic let Melbourne Podiatrists & Orthotics be a part of your prevention and management strategy.