​​The good news is that these issues can be prevented. It requires good self-management and proper use of your podiatry service.

How diabetes affects the feet

Good blood glucose control is the only way to reduce the risk of diabetic complications. Prolonged high blood glucose levels over a period of time can lead to narrowing and even blockage of blood vessels. In the feet, this can cause tissue damage, resulting in amputation in extreme cases.

The nerves supplying the feet can also be affected. Most impacted are the sensory nerves in the skin. These are the ones that allow us to feel touch, temperature and pain. Loss of sensation increases the risk of developing serious diabetic foot problems unless the patient is very careful and vigilant.

Fortunately it is possible to manage and minimise the risks, mainly through diet, exercise and lifestyle changes. Below are some of the things that people with diabetes can do to help reduce the risk of complications in the feet.

When you have diabetes, you must check your feet

Remember that out of sight should not be out of mind. We don’t look much at our feet but with diabetes you have to. Looking after your feet is as important as looking after the rest of your body.

Checking your feet on a daily basis is the best way to know if there is anything wrong with them. If you see any changes, such as blisters, red areas, unusual blemishes, swelling or cuts, contact your podiatrist or doctor immediately.

Attend diabetic foot checks

Foot examinations check for:

  • Loss of sensation.
  • Level of blood flow to the feet.
  • Changes to the foot shape (development of pressure points).
  • Other foot conditions such as diabetic foot ulcer.

Regular foot checks by a podiatrist, nurse or doctor will ensure that any changes in your foot condition that may present a risk get promptly noticed. Treatment or management advice can then be given to assist with continued good foot health.

Read on for more foot care tips.

Ref: S13