Foot problems commonly develop where a person has Diabetes, and are often more serious than in a healthy individual.
The Diabetic Foot
High levels of blood glucose over a long period of time can result in harm to the body and its functions. In the feet, the nerves and the blood supply may both be adversely affected as a result of diabetes. Nerve damage in the feet and legs may cause a loss of sensation. Any trauma or injury to the foot, for example standing on a sharp object, may not be felt and could lead to more serious complications such as an ulcer.
Diabetes can lead to a restricted blood supply in the feet and legs which may affect the ability to heal if there is an injury to the foot. The feet may appear cold and pulses will be weak where circulation is poor.
A Podiatrist can advise on a number of things that a person with diabetes can do to help avoid complications with their feet. These include;
- Examining the feet daily for cuts/swelling/scratches or discolouration.
- Washing the feet daily and drying thoroughly but gently.
- Avoid burning the feet. Due to reduced sensation, burns from hot water for example may not be felt.
- Care when cutting toenails – if eyesight, sensation or circulation is impaired it is advisable that a Podiatrist cuts toenails.
- Corns and callus should be treated by a Podiatrist.
- Footwear should fit well, and shoes should be checked before wearing each time to see that there is nothing that could cause irritation to the foot such as a stone.
- Stopping smoking can be helpful as circulation is worsened in smokers.
It is important for a Podiatrist to monitor any deterioration in the nerves of the feet or circulation. This allows the patient to take the necessary precautions to help avoid any complications.
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