Diabetes Foot Health
Our goal is to keep you walking and active, to prevent foot amputation, and to increase your overall health!
An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure…was never as true as for diabetic feet. To prevent foot problems before they start, every diabetic should see a chiropodist as soon as they are diagnosed. After an initial assessment, a baseline of information is established. A chiropodist will perform a foot and lower leg examination: neurological (nerves); vascular (blood); dermatological (skin) and musculo/skeletal (muscle, ligament, joints, and bone). Your chiropodist will teach you how diabetes affects your feet, find out whether you are likely to have serious foot problems, and will set up a foot care program for you.The importance of proper, preventative foot care cannot be overstated!
How Does Diabetes Affect Your Feet?
Circulation:Blood vessel damage caused by high glucose levels and high blood pressure can lead to poor blood circulation in legs and feet. Poor circulation slows down healing and increases chance of foot infection.
Neuropathy:Neuropathy is nerve damage and related foot problems due to blood vessel damage to the nervous system. Forty to fifty percent of people with diabetes are affected by neuropathy. The risk of neuropathy increases with age, duration of diabetes and severity of hyperglycaemia-high blood sugars. After 20 years, 42% of diabetics will have neuropathy.
Diabetic peripheral neuropathy can cause the shape of your foot to change (Charcot changes) and decrease sweat production, creating dry skin prone to cracking and increased risk of infection.
Neuropathy is also highly associated with an increased risk of foot ulceration. Damaged nerves in the feet make them less sensitive to pain. With loss of feeling you can hurt your feet without knowing it, leading to a wound/ulcer. A diabetic may not feel a minor cut or abrasion until hours later, if at all. For example, a diabetic may step on a pebble or sharp object and not even feel it due to numbness brought on by impaired nerve conduction.
A person with diabetes may also develop callouses on the bottom of the feet due to improper gait or shoes, and not realize it. As a result, the skin may break down and possibly ulcerate. Poor blood circulation to the area will prevent healing, and infection may set in.
Time is of the essence since undetected foot infections may travel very rapidly up the leg of a diabetic. The end result can be ulceration, severe infection and possibly amputation.
15% of all diabetics develop foot ulcers!!!50% of all lower extremity amputations are diabetic related complications!!!25% of all hospitalizations for diabetes occur because of foot problems!!! A few simple steps a day can help prevent foot problems.
DO's and Do Not's of Diabetic Foot Care
Check your feet every day by examining the tops and bottoms of your bare feet as well as the nails and in between the toes. Look for cuts, bruises, swelling, cracks, sores, blisters, redness or any other changes in colour. If it is difficult to see the bottoms, use a mirror. If you cannot see your feet, enlist a family member or a close friend to check them for you.
Wash your feet every day in warm -not hot- water with mild soap. Dry them thoroughly,especially between the toes. Do not soak your feet for more than 15 minutes at a time.
Keep your skin soft and smooth. Rub a thin coat of skin lotion/cream over the tops and bottoms of your feet, but not between your toes. E.g. of lotion: Uremol and Dermal Therapy
Smooth corns and calluses gently. Do not use over-the-counter products or sharp objects on corns and calluses. Do not apply corn and wart medicines on your feet. If your feet are at low risk for problems use a pumice stone to smooth it out. If your feet are at medium and/or high risk then see your chiropodist for professional treatment.
Trim your nails. If you can see and reach your toenails, trim them each week or as needed. Trim your toenails straight across and file the edges and corners with an emery board or nail file. If you can not see or reach your feet or have neuropathy, see your local chiropodist.
Change your socks daily. Wear seamless socks, or wear inside out. Wear socks at night if your feet get cold.
Wear shoes and socks at all times. Never walk barefoot. Wear well fitting shoes or slippers at all times. The sole of slippers should be protective enough that a thumb tack would not pierce through. Feel inside your shoes before putting them on each time to make sure the lining is smooth and there are no foreign objects inside. Wear shoes at the beach or on hot pavement. To learn more about what features in shoes are most appropriate for you and your feet, contact your local chiropodist.
Keep the blood flowing to your feet. Put your feet up when sitting. Wiggle your toes and move your ankles up and down for five minutes, two or three times a day. Don’t cross your legs for long periods of time. Don’t smoke.
Protect your feet from hot and cold. Don’t test bath water with your feet. Don’t use hot water bottle or heating pads.
See your chiropodist - foot specialist on a regular basis.