Diabetes can damage the nerve endings of your foot which can reduce the sensation that you feel. This term is called peripheral neuropathy. When you have such condition you will have a hard time avoiding soft tissue injuries because of your insensitivity to pain.
Diabetes can also affect vascular health and affect the circulation of blood in your peripheries most especially in your feet; poor circulation could then equal to poor oxygenation and poor wound healing of the body part.
Checking your feet
There are two types of risk to feet, high risk and low risk. Knowing the risk and taking care of your feet can prevent serious problems like ulcers and amputation. A podiatrist can carry out an easy and painless check on your feet to determine whether your feet have a low or high risk of developing more serious problems.
Low risk feet have normal sensation and good blood flow. However it is important to know that low risk feet can become high risk feet without symptoms, so regular checks are still as important.
People who have had a foot ulcer or amputation in the past have a high risk of complications. Feet with calluses or deformities like claw toes also have increased risk if poor feeling and/or decreased blood flow are also present.
If your feet are at high risk, you should have them checked by a podiatrist every 3 – 6 months. In some cases you may be referred to a specialist or high risk foot clinic.
The check-up will include looking at the following:
- Blood flow to the feet (circulation)
- Feeling and reflexes (nerves)
- Unusual foot shapes (including bunions, claw toes and hammer toes)
- Dryness, calluses, corns, cracks or infections.
People with diabetes who have misshapen feet and nerve damage are the more likely to develop:
- Ulcers from too much pressure over some areas of the feet
- More corns and calluses due to too much pressure on one area and can be avoided with some changes.
Seek your podiatrist’s help to remove calluses or corns before they become ulcers as these can become infected, risking amputation.
Looking after your feet
- When you have diabetes you need to take care of your feet every day
- Having diabetes can increase your risk of foot ulcers and amputations
- Daily care can prevent serious complications
- Check your feet daily for changes or problems
- Visit a podiatrist annually for a check up or more frequently if your feet are at high risk
Your feet are at risk because diabetes can cause damage to the nerves in your feet, blood circulation and infection. Having diabetes can increase your risk of foot ulcers and amputations. This damage is more likely if:
- You have had diabetes for a long time
- Your blood glucose levels have been too high for an extended period
- You smoke – smoking causes a reduced blood flow to your feet, wounds heal slowly
- You are inactive.
It's important to check your feet every day.
If you see any of the following- get medical treatment that *day *
- Unusual swelling
- Ingrown nail
- Bruising or cuts
If you see any of the following- get medical treatment within 7 days
- Broken skin between toes
- Foot shape changes
- Cracked skin
- Nail colour changes