Diabetes is a big focus for us as podiatrists, and we’re often asked the question, “how should I look after my feet?” People with diabetes are often told you must look after your feet, but nobody tells them how. There are some great resources on the Diabetes Australia website and they have printed material that you can look at as well. You will always be able to get good advice from your doctor, diabetes specialist, nurses and podiatrists.
3 top tips
There are three things that I advise people with diabetes to do.
1. Number one, is to protect your feet. Protecting your feet means wearing appropriate footwear, and being aware of your surroundings so that if you are somewhere where they may be hot, or they may be cold, you don’t put your feet at risk.
2. The second thing I advise is to check your feet every day. Checking your feet is important. Because if you have any loss of sensation or nerve damage in your legs or feet, you may not realize that there’s something wrong. So look at your feet, feel your feet, check for any warmth or cold and make note of any wounds or bleeding, swelling or injuries.
3. The third thing that I advise is that if you find something wrong, when you’re checking your feet, then you need to get professional help within 24 hours. Now, by professional help, I mean either seeing your podiatrist, your doctor, or even if you’re out of town, going to an accident and emergency department. Simply saying “I have diabetes, and I think I’ve got a foot infection or a foot problem” should raise a red flag and make sure that you’re seen as a priority.
It’s not all doom and gloom. People living with diabetes still manage to get on and do the things they want to do. They just need to follow a few simple rules.
Complications affecting feet.
The big complications of diabetes that affect your feet are loss of sensation, or peripheral neuropathy. This is nerve damage, which means you lose feeling in your feet and you can’t tell if you’ve hurt yourself. Secondly, the major arteries in your legs can be affected. They will tend to harden and narrow sooner than they would in the regular population without diabetes. This makes it more difficult to keep your feet warm and healthy with good circulation of blood. If you do hurt yourself and get a wound, it can be difficult to heal and difficult to fight infection.
Unfortunately, two people every hour in Australia have a lower limb amputation because of diabetes foot disease. As many as 50,000 people in Australia are living with diabetes foot disease at the moment.
It’s important that everybody is educated, knows how to look after their feet and has a team of people they can turn to for help. So if you need help with your feet, give us a call at Umina Podiatry and we’ll be happy to check you, to give you the right advice and to follow up and make sure you don’t have problems in future. living with diabetes needn’t lead to foot disease as long as you know what to do.
You can use this assessment tool for people with diabetes to see if your feet are at risk. Just click this link.
Protect your feet, check them every day, get help if you need it.
How We can help You
Our podiatrists will check the circulation in your feet be feeling the pulses, and perhaps measuring the blood pressure in your legs or even your big toes. This will help us understand if you have any vascular disease.
We will also check the sensation in your feet using devices such as a monofilament (fishing line), tuning fork, or warm/cold items. This will indicate if you have peripheral neuropathy.
It is important that your footwear fits well and has no damage or rough edges in the lining. We will check and advise you on appropriate footwear and hosiery.
Lastly we will inspect your skin and toenails, looking for potential pressure areas or wounds, and advise you on how to best look after your feet.