Diabetes Education And Footcare Perth
Do you suffer from Diabetes? If so, management of your feet is so important – read what our podiatrists have to say…
The prevalence of diabetes has escalated world wide, and although it has an effect on the body as a whole; the feet can be largely involved by the disease process. As the disease progresses, it can have an effect on both the blood and nerve supply of the feet. Therefore, maintenance with regular foot screenings and routine foot-care is very important to prevent complications from occurring. Those with prolonged diabetes and/or poorly controlled blood glucose levels are more prone to the foot complications associated with the disease; such as poor wound healing or the development of ulceration, infection and amputation.An essential aspect to having diabetes is the understanding that the complications associated with the disease are ALL very PREVENTABLE and manageable.
Diabetes affects the arteries that supply blood to the feet. The resultant lack of blood flow to areas may prevent any trauma (e.g. cut or abrasion) to heal as rapidly; and this increases the risk of infection. A reduced blood supply diminishes the oxygen and nutrients available for any of the tissues to heal.
Signs of poor blood supply:
- Sharp cramping in the legs or feet when walking short distances
- Sharp cramping in the legs or feet while resting or sleeping
- Cold feet to touch
- Red/blue skin colour
- Cuts or abrasions are slow to heal
- Loss of hair growth on the top of the foot
- Dry/thin skin
The extent of nerve supply damage is highly correlated to the length of time you have had diabetes, and also the stability of blood sugar levels. The damage affects the nerves furthest first (i.e. the toes and foot), and then may progress to the ankle. This pattern of progression is termed ‘peripheral neuropathy’.
Neuropathy increases the risk of injury or soft tissue trauma, as the ability to perceive painful stimuli is diminished. The motor nerve (muscle) function is also weakened, which may predispose to the development of foot deformities, which places abnormal loading on certain areas of the feet. This can then predispose the individual to developing ulcers on the diabetic feet, which may heel at a prolonged rate due to diminished blood supply.
Signs of peripheral neuropathy:
Most signs are normally symmetrical:
- Pain, burning, tingling, numbness, hot/cold sensation, or pins and needles in the feet
- Weakness in the feet and legs
Management of diabetes:
- It is important to check your feet daily for any changes to the skin (e.g. cuts, abrasions, blisters, cracks, scratches etc). If present be sure to dress the area with some antiseptic immediately.
- It is likely important to maintain adequate foot hygiene by regularly washing, and drying your feet thoroughly (especially drying in between the toes).
- Moisturise your feet daily with a suitable cream (avoid in between the toes).
- Cut toenails straight across and file the corners to prevent sharp edges.
- Use breathable clean wool or cotton socks
- Good nutrition
- Blood sugar level stability: check your blood sugars on a regular basis