Diabetes and Diabetic Foot Care.
Feet must last us a life time but with Diabetes, they can be under real threat of failing to make the distance. This is worrying as feet are generally our most important form of transport.
There are many complications that can occur with diabetes but those that affect the diabetic foot include:
These two complications can create a multitude of diabetic foot problems which can lead to diabetic foot infection, diabetic foot ulcer problems, gangrene and possibly amputation of the foot and/or leg/s. This may sound extreme but this threat is very real. The good news is this threat can be prevented with good foot care, proper education and management.
The one problem I see time and time again in my practice is a syndrome that I call the "Diabetic Unreal Syndrome". This syndrome is extremely dangerous. This is where a person has been diagnosed with Diabetes, is advised on the possible consequences of the disease but chooses not to make appropriate lifestyle changes. They think the complications are so unreal that it won't affect them.
Diabetes is a disease where you don't actually feel sick and it does not discriminate. Consequently, many newly diagnosed Diabetics refuse to accept that they themselves will ever need to worry about any complications. The sad fact is, it can happen to anyone.
Some of the complications affecting the diabetic foot include poor blood supply to the feet and diabetic foot neuropathy where the nerve sensation can be impaired.
Now with poor blood supply, healing ability is going to be impaired which means a person with diabetes is going to be more prone to diabetic foot infection.
Impaired sensation to the feet due to nerve damage predisposes diabetics to unknown damage to the feet. This means that you may step on something dangerous (eg. glass) and not feel it. You may even have trouble distinguishing water temperature differences, once more predisposing you to possible damage. Sometimes people don't know that their shoes are too small or too narrow, giving rise to corn, callus or lesion formation and possible diabetic foot ulcer formation.
Prevention is crucial and very simple.
1. Feet must be checked thoroughly every day.
This only takes 30 seconds and could save your life. Here you are checking for damage of any kind, (eg. tinea, cuts, scratches, corns, etc.) If you notice any cuts or scratches, then apply an antiseptic cream or liquid.
If the problem doesn't resolve within two days, contact your Doctor or Podiatrist immediately. If your vision is impaired, have a family member assist you with this task.
2. Visit your Podiatrist for regular reviews.
Some may only need reviewing every six months, others may need to be seen monthly. Your diabetic foot care needs will be determined by the current state of your feet and how diligent you are in preventing diabetic foot problems. Ask for advice on how to care for your skin and trim toenails correctly.
3. Always wear footwear.
Footwear plays a crucial role in protecting our feet, especially when you have Diabetes. They help to prevent damage from foreign objects and the environment. Ensure shoes fit correctly as irritation from shoes can cause lesions, corns, ulceration, blistering and infection. Use your hands to check the inside of your shoes regularly for any possible irritants or splinters. Sometimes specific diabetic shoes are required for those with hard to fit feet.
4. Never wear socks or stockings with tight elastic tops.
When choosing hosiery be sure that tight elastic bands are NOT present. These often cause restriction in blood supply which is the last thing you want. Diabetic socks need to fit loosely with no prominant seams.
If you experience cold feet in winter, wear socks to bed. Be careful to wear footwear or socks in cold weather to avoid chillblains or frostbite. DO NOT use hot water bottles or heating pads of any kind.
5. Exercise regularly.
Daily walks for 20 to 30 minutes help to improve blood supply to your feet and have a postive effect on your Diabetes in general. If you have trouble walking, see your Podiatrist. Try cycling or swimming until you can walk comfortably.
6. Wash your feet daily with mild soap and lukewarm water.
Ensure the water is not too hot and dry your feet thoroughly, especially between your toes.
7. Use a moisturiser after bathing the feet.
Dry skin and cracking can occur especially if you bathe the feet for too long. Avoid bathing the feet for longer than 15 minutes and apply moisturising lotion regularly. Avoid this between the toes where it tends to be moist naturally.
8. Avoid sitting with your legs crossed.
This can cause problems with your circulation.
9. NEVER attempt at home surgery or self removal of corns, calluses or ingrown toenails.
These problems should be managed professionally by your Podiatrist. Diabetic foot care requires regular podiatry visits.
10. Avoid smoking.
This decreases blood supply to your feet predisposing you to infection and other foot problems.
11. Always communicate with your Podiatrist.
If in doubt about anything at all, contact your Podiatrist. Prevention is always far better than cure especially when dealing with diabetic foot care.
For further information on Diabetes, diabetic foot care and foot pain visit...
More on diabetic foot care and foot pain.
WARNING : This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace professional podiatric advice. Treatment will vary between individuals depending upon your diagnosis and presenting complaint. An accurate diagnosis can only be made following personal consultation with a Podiatrist, your Doctor or your foot specialist.
Still unsure about your problem?...
Visit our Foot Problems page and ask us a question about your specific problem. We'll do our best to help.
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