Having diabetes increases your risk of developing diabetes related complications including nerve damage (peripheral neuropathy), or poor circulation (peripheral vascular disease). It may also cause changes to your joints, muscles, skin health, hair growth and ability to heal. These complications may increase your risk of developing ulcers that may even lead to amputations.
What Are the Symptoms?
Feet are often the first place to show such diabetes related symptoms. This is why it is so important to pay attention to any such changes in your feet if you have diabetes.
- Cold feet,
- Sharp pains in your leg after walking,
- Pins and needles in your feet,
- Sudden changes in the shape of your foot,
- Changes in the colour of your feet,
- Skin and nail changes such as corns and calluses.
Key Warning Signs
Always remember to keep an eye out for warning signs the can lead to larger problems, our key areas to look for are.
- Foot deformities, such as overlapping toes, and bunions, can put you at a greater risk for developing calluses and ulcers (open wounds). Pay extra attention to foot care if you have any of these issues.
- Wearing ill fitting shoes for a long time can rub or pinch which makes it more likely for a blister or wound to form.
- Poor circulation means you won’t get enough blood flow to heal wounds, so it will take longer to get well. Some signs of poor circulation include weak pulses in your feet or legs, shiny and hairless skin, and discoloured skin.
- High blood glucose levels can lead to slow-healing foot wounds and slow the body’s ability to fight infection.
What Can You Do for Your Feet?
Check your feet every day
Look for calluses, blisters, scaling (dry skin), cracks in the skin (especially between toes and on your heels), redness, and swelling. If you can’t turn your leg to see the bottom of your foot, we suggest putting a mirror on the floor and holding your foot above it to check the bottom for trouble spots.
Make sure you clean and dry your feet very well, including between toes. Diabetes results in an increased risk of infections and delayed healing.
Moisturise every day
You can avoid dry skin and cracking by using a thick moisturiser on your feet. Rub it in well, but don’t put it between your toes—those dark, moist areas are great hosts for infection. We can provide you with some great products for this!
Try to wear shoes that fit your feet and don’t go barefoot
Going barefoot exposes your feet to sharp objects in the surrounding environment, increasing your risk of getting cuts or injuries. Germs can enter through the skin breaks and cause an infection. This is especially so for those with a loss of sensation in their feet as they are unable to feel the cut or injury and leave the skin break untreated.
Get checked out regularly
We highly recommend visiting us at ProMed regularly, so we can monitor your condition and stay on top of your foot health. Remember prevention is better than trying to fix the problem!
What Can Your Podiatrist Do?
Podiatrists have a range of skills when it comes to assessing and managing diabetes foot health. Some of the common treatments we regularly provide to our clients at ProMed for people with diabetes include:
- Provide skin and nail care – including callus, corns, thick toenails, ingrown toenails, fungal nails, dry skin, flaking, splits and plantar warts.
- Provide education specific to you and your feet in preventing and managing complications of diabetes.
- Assess and manage foot pain – including musculoskeletal assessment, gait assessment, massage, electro therapies, orthoses, dry needling and mobilisation.
- Assess footwear and prescribe and advise on shoes – including over the counter footwear, medical grade footwear and custom-made footwear.
- Assess individual risk status. A diabetes foot assessment by a podiatrist or specially trained health practitioner is recommended for all people with diabetes to assess and monitor risk. At ProMed Podiatry Clinic this includes checking your pulses with Doppler, taking the blood pressure for your ankles and toes and testing the feeling in your feet. We also do a comprehensive medical and diabetes history which enables us to classify your risk status and provide information on preventing complications.
At ProMed we work with clients living with Diabetes on a daily basis. We also focus on warning signs and risks to be aware of – remember, it’s vitally important to keep on top of your health! Remember, each person is unique, and our health differs from person to person, always consult the professionals if you are worried!