Diabetes and Feet - Why bother?
So you have been diagnosed as having diabetes and since then you have heard you have heard multiple professionals telling you why you have to do this, do that, pay more attention to this and it is really important that you do this and be careful of that, sometimes it all becomes a bit overwhelming and you are left wondering where to turn and if it is really all worth it.
Following are some hard hitting facts not to scare you but to make it clear why it is so important to look after your feet and why you need to give them a bit of extra TLC.
Diabetes is worldwide the most common of all the autoimmune disorders. Either the pancreas stops producing the hormone insulin or not producing enough to meet the demands being placed on it. This means if left uncontrolled, there can be too much sugar circulating in the blood system, which in turn can damage the small blood vessels and small nerve fibres- this is why diabetes has numerous commonly occurring secondary effects on the body
Over 60% of people with diabetes will suffer from debilitating nerve damage known as diabetic neuropathy (this most commonly affects the feet). Neuropathy is the loss of feeling or in some caes constant pain caused by damaged nerves as a result of long term high blood sugar levels. Where minor injury occurs such as cuts, callous' or blisters, the numbness can cause them to go unnoticed leading to ulcers or even surgical amputation.
NEUROPATHY SYMPTOMS INCLUDE:
- Tingling or numb feet
- Difficulty walking
- Loss of balance
- Shooting pain
IF you suffer from neuropathy an everyday type problem can very quickly develop into a serious problem, for example a stone in your shoe could cause irreparable damage to your foot.
Statistically, 25% of people with diabetes will have a minor foot injury develop into an ulcer.
1 in 5 foot ulcers will require surgical amputation.
Foot damage immediately doubles a person with diabetes likelihood of dying over the next decade when compared to a non-diabetic.
In the United State almost 100000 limbs are lost to diabetes each year.
12 STEPS TO PREVENTING DAMAGE CAUSED BY NEUROPATHY:
- Check feet daily. Get to know what feet look like normally, this way any changes are detected quickly.
- If you do notice changes know who to contact, Podiatrist, G.P., if out of hours ADOC or even Accident and Emergency. It is better to have something checked and it turn out to be nothing than to ignore!
- Know what changes you are looking for, i.e. redness, hot spots, unexplained bruising, presence of pus or bleeding
- Check your shoes. If you do have diminished feeling in your feet something could very easily have gotten in there and you may not realise until damage has been done.
- Never walk barefoot. You could easily stand on something and not detect it being there, skin can be pierced very quickly.
- Moisturise your feet daily. This improves skin tone and makes skin less prone to cracks or breaks (this is particularly important if you have autonomic neuropathy which can lead to excessive dryness of the skin).
- Never be tempted to use corn medications or blades on your own feet
- If you have problems with hard skin or corns always seek treatment from an HCPC registered podiatrist
- Always take care with temperature, if you have neuropathy you can lose sensation of hot and cold, therefore putting yourself at risk of burns.
- Always wear well fitting shoes and don’t be afraid to get your feet measured. Your feet can change and not all shoes are a standard size!! A shoe that is too big can cause as much damage as one that is too small.
- Avoid wearing thong type sandals or anything with a toe post. These can cause rubbing on a sensitive area of your foot and also offer little or no support for foot posture.
- Care must be taken when choosing hosiery, anything too tight can impact the circulation to your feet.
At StEPS Podiatry we offer annual diabetic foot checks. If you think you need a check up, get in touch and see one of our podiatrists.