In the first of our 2 part mini series on diabetes and its effects on the foot, our inhouse Chiropodist and Podiatrist, Sarah Kerrane MSCPI takes us through what this condition is, and it’s most common effects on the feet.
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a long term medical condition that causes high blood sugar levels. It is very common. In 2013 it was estimated that over 382 million people world wide have the condition. Diabetes can affect many parts of our body including the feet.
Here are some of the main ways that diabetes can affect the feet that I would regularly see in clinic.
Poor Wound Healing
Diabetes causes the blood vessels of the leg and foot to become narrow and hard. This means that blood flow from the heart to the foot is reduced. The impact of this is that it can make the foot less able to fight infection and heal, which is critical for when we get small cuts on blisters on our feet.
Diabetes can also cause nerve damage. This lessens the ability to feel pain, heat or cold. You may cause damage to the skin of the foot with a bruise or cut and not even be aware of it. This can become a big issue as a small blister can develop into an ulcer if not dealt with quickly.
Cracked Sore Skin
Diabetes also damages the nerves that control the moisture of the foot. This can cause the skin to becomes very dry, cracked and sore. It commonly can lead to calluses building up on high pressure point areas which need to be carefully pared and filed back.
As a result of poor blood flow, the nails can become thickened and discoloured with Diabetes.
Without proper care, the skin of the foot can easily break down which leads to an open wound that becomes infected. This is called an ulcer. Ulcers can be very very hard to get rid of and often need hospitalisation to get right. Prevention is very definitely the best cure here so daily checking of the feet is key.
If you have Diabetes, it is very important to take good care of your feet. Checking it with your GP, Chiropodist or Podiatrist is highly recommended. If you have any queries on your feet, we are more that happy to help!
At Total Care Physio, our Podiatrist performs a Diabetic Foot Screen which is an overall check-up of you feet, the circulation in your feet, your sensation and your risk of ulceration.
For any more details on our Chiropody and Podiatry Service check our page here.
Tune in in the coming days for Part 2 of Sarah’s top tips for protecting your diabetic foot at home.
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