What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a condition in which the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood is too high because the body is unable to use it properly. This is because insulin is lacking, or the body's way of converting glucose into energy is not working properly.
The World Health Organization research from 2014 indicate that approximately 422 million people are living with diabetes worldwide which is nearly doubling the prevalence since 1980.
It is very important to understand that one of the major complications with this disease is feet or lower limb problems. Diabetes contributes significantly to the development of peripheral arterial disease and is associated with a 4–5 times increased likelihood of critical limb ischaemia (lack of blood flow) and lower limb amputation.
Two of the most common complications associated with Diabetes is Peripheral Neuropathy and Peripheral Arterial Disease.
The excessive glucose in the blood causes demylination (break down of the nerve fibres) of the protective sheath around the nerves in long term diabetics, this means long term diabetics can have reduced or altered sensation. Sometimes this can lead to a loss of what we call protective sensation, which means if a diabetic patient were to have a stone stuck in their shoe, they may not feel it and it could develop into an ulcer.
Peripheral Arterial Disease
Leg pain when walking is referred to as claudication, indicating ischemic pain from lack of blood flow. Usually brought on when doing exercise such as walking up the stairs. Lack of blood flow means slower healing time of any cuts which can develop into ulcers and can get infected.
What to do when you have Diabetes
Diabetes Australia recommends annual check ups with a Podiatrist to assess the neurovascular health of the feet before a problem arises, and a report is then sent back to your GP.
It is imperative that if you have Diabetes to regularly check your feet for any skin breaks, corns, callous formation or redness and swelling.
- Protect your feet from injury by wearing suitable foot wear
- Inspect your feet every day - your podiatrist can show you how
- see your podiatrist immediately if something is not healing or you find any red swollen areas on your feet.
- Where possible wear lace up shoes which are deep and broad enough, especially at the toes for your foot.
- Check the inside of your shoes for rough edges, shake them out before use to make sure there is nothing loose inside.
- Cotton hosiery, socks and tights, worn with leather upper shoes are good choices.
With nerve damage or altered sensation you may experience numbness in your feet. Cuts, blisters, ingrown toenails and corns may often go unnoticed. Reduced blood supply and poor circulation can slow down the healing process. PROTECT your feet from injury. INSPECT your feet everyday. Have your feet ASSESSED every year by your podiatrist.
Our Podiatrist at ATUNE can provide a comprehensive Diabetes Assessment which includes use of a Doppler Ultrasound to assess to the blood flow, as well as neurological tools to assess your nerve health.
Learn more about ATUNE Podiatry here.