Diabetes & Foot Risk

Many people are unaware of the risk diabetes poses to the feet & legs.

An amputation due to diabetes occurs every 23 seconds worldwide.
This is an alarming statistic, particularly when foot complications in diabetes
can be monitored & prevented.

Amputation is prevalent in diabetics due to the high rate of ulceration that can lead to life-threatening infection. The decision to amputate is made in order to save your life. However, this doesn’t have to be the end result. With good care that prevents ulceration from occurring, these difficult decisions aren’t required.

So why does ulceration occur in diabetics? There are 3 main changes that can occur in the foot with diabetes:
1. Changes in blood flow.

Reduced blood supply to foot slows healing, & leads to fragile skin. Insufficient action of the veins to return blood and fluid to the heart leads to fluid pooling at the feet and ankles placing stress on the tissues. Smoking also damages these vessels.

2. Changes in nerve function.

Peripheral neuropathy, a condition where the nerves cease to work properly which leads to numbness, altered sensation or pain at the extremities of the body.

3. Changes in foot shape.

The small muscles in the foot waste away with time & some of the more dominant muscles take over. This can lead to a high arched foot with clawed toes creating high pressure areas at the tips of the toes, the ball of the foot & the heels. Thick callous can develop in these locations that can create & hide an ulcer beneath them.

So overall you have an individual who is prone to injury, who can’t feel the wound when it is created, & then once they do notice, they can’t heal it quickly. Patients may try to heal the same ulcer for over a year.

As a specialist in foot health, Podiatrists routinely assess those structures affected by diabetes & can implement a variety of treatments to reduce their effects. They also actively communicate with your GP & other health professionals to ensure you receive the best
care.

It is important to talk through your condition & develop a good relationship with
the practitioners you interact with. This will assist them to understand your needs & help provide the education that is relevant to you before a complication arises. There are many simple things that you can do to prevent complications & maintain good foot & general health.

It is better to attend a Podiatrist as early as possible, but if you haven’t it isn’t too late to start. Diabetics are advised to have a yearly check-up with a Podiatrist as a minimum, but may be advised to attend more regularly.

It is also very important to check in early if you notice a wound on your foot. So have you seen a Podiatrist in the last 12 months? Or do you have a friend of
family member who hasn’t either? If this is you, don’t put it off any longer.

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