Diabetes: Diabetic Foot Health
Everyone should look after their feet, but if you have diabetes, foot health is vital.
Why? Every single person with diabetes is at risk of foot ulcers and lower limb amputation.
The statistics are frightening.
- 25% of diabetics will have a minor injury develop into a foot ulcer.
- 1 in 5 ulcers will require surgical amputation.
- A limb is lost to diabetes in Australia every 3 hours.
But keep reading, because I do have some good news!
A comprehensive foot care program can halt an ulcer before it takes hold, and reduce the chance of amputation by 85%.
And here’s another piece of good news, Western Sydney Podiatry offers a comprehensive Proactive Diabetic Foot Health Program that can help keep you, and your feet, on track.
Awareness: the key to good foot health
Some of you may be wondering how a condition that stems from your pancreas affects your feet.
I’ll tell you more about this in just a moment, but first, I just need to get onto my soap box and say: If you have diabetes you should already know AND if you don’t know, it’s not your fault.
A health care professional should have explained the risks to you, and told you how to manage those risks, when you were diagnosed. What’s more, they should continue to remind you to have a regular foot health check.
One more sentence before I step back down: Lack of awareness is one of the main reasons the levels of diabetes related lower limb amputations are so high in Australia.
Ignorance doesn’t always equal bliss
Regulars to this blog will know that our team is experienced in, and passionate about, diabetic foot health.
I’d like to share two stories that show how a lack of information, or misinformation, can lead to trouble.
Jane is a 12-year-old with type 1 diabetes. When she first came to Western Sydney Podiatry, Jane was too scared to cut her own toenails and was absolutely terrified about losing her feet.
She’d been seeing another podiatrist every 10 weeks for the past two years. So, Jane had information, just not all of it.
When she came to us, we took the time to talk with her and her parents. We carried out our assessments and explained her risks.
It turned out that the odds of Jane having a foot complication were less than 1%.
Armed with the right information, she’s now much happier and is no longer stressed about her feet. What’s more, given her low risk status, Jane only needs to come and see us every 12 months.
Another client, Joe, was at the other end of the spectrum. Despite having type 2 diabetes for 13 years, he hadn’t been told how vital foot care was.
Because of this, Joe ended up with blisters on his toes that “just wouldn’t go away”. In time, the blisters turned into a wound that stopped him doing many of the things he loved.
When the wound refused to heal by itself, Joe’s GP sent him to Western Sydney Podiatry.
With regular wound care and implementation of pressure reduction strategies, we had the wound healed and Joe back on his feet within 12 months. He’s now a regular patient and has been complication free for two years.
How does diabetes affect your feet?
Now, here’s that promised information.
As you probably already know, diabetes is a complex, long term and serious condition.
Over time, high blood glucose levels can damage nerves in your feet and your blood vessels. This can lead to loss of sensation and poor circulation.
So, if you have good blood supply to your feet, your nerves and muscles work well. This means that if, for example, you get a small stone in your shoe, your nerves yell out to your brain to take a look – like an emergency warning system.
If you have the lowered sensation associated with nerve damage, you might not feel that stone and your emergency warning system won’t fire.
To make matters worse, if you get a cut or scratch and you have poor blood flow to your feet, it will take longer to heal.
What steps can you take to look after your feet?
Now here’s that lovely, shiny, happy news again: A comprehensive foot care program can halt an ulcer before it takes hold, and reduce the chance of amputation by 85%.
And the equally lovely supplementary bonus news, Western Sydney Podiatry offers a comprehensive Proactive Diabetic Foot Health Program.
But, first things first. The best way to avoid any of the complications associated with diabetes is to keep your blood sugar levels under control.
However, even if your levels are consistently good, it’s vital to have your feet checked regularly by an experienced podiatrist. Which is why it’s the first step in the “6 key steps” below.
6 keys steps to diabetic foot health
- Make an appointment with a podiatrist who specialises in diabetic foot health. They will check the blood flow and sensation in your feet.
- Wash your feet in warm water every day. Dry your feet well, especially between the toes.
- Get friendly with your feet – check daily for cuts, bruises, blisters or swelling.
- Wear loose fitting socks and always wear shoes that fit well.
- Never walk barefoot indoors or outdoors.
- Talk to you doctor about your blood glucose targets and other treatment goals, as control of your diabetes is the best way to prevent complications.
How Western Sydney Podiatry can help
As I’ve already mentioned, our team is experienced in, and passionate about diabetic foot health. We’ve distilled that experience into our comprehensive Proactive Diabetic Foot Health Program.
You’ll find detailed information on our program here.
When you come in we’ll get to know you, find out more about your underlying health conditions and answer any questions you may have.
As you’ve probably gathered, we’ll give you lots of information and set you up with an easy to follow self-care program.
If you need treatment, we’ll explain those options too. You can find out more about what we offer here.
And of course, we’re always happy to just have a chat about your options. Feel free to send us an email with any questions, or call our clinic to make a time to speak with one of our podiatrists or to make an appointment.