Diabetes is marked by the inability to manufacture or properly use insulin, and impairs the body’s ability to convert sugars, starches, and other foods into energy. Diabetes is a systemic disease which may affect many different parts of the body. The foot is well supplied by many small blood vessels. These may become blocked as a possible complication of diabetes. Poor blood supply results in providing less nutrients to the extremities which may result in poor or slower health causing infections. As a result, diabetes management requires a team approach. A podiatrist is an integral part of the treatment team.
- 1 in 17 Australian adults (6%) approximately 1.2 million people in 2014–15—had diabetes.
- 28,800 people started using insulin in 2015 to treat their diabetes.
- 1 million hospitalisations were associated with diabetes (principal and/or additional diagnosis) in 2014–15, that is 10% of all hospitalisations in Australia.
It is important that all patients diagnosed with diabetes see a podiatrist. Diabetics are more at risk of foot problems, these conditions include diabetic neuropathy (loss of normal nerve function) and peripheral vascular disease (loss of normal circulation). These two conditions can lead to:
- Diabetic foot ulcers: wounds that do not heal or become infected
- Infections: skin infections (cellulitis), bone infections (osteomyelitis) and pus collections (abscesses)
- Gangrene: dead tissue resulting from complete loss of circulation
- Charcot arthropathy: fractures and dislocations that may result in severe deformities
- Amputation: partial foot, whole foot or below-knee amputation
Diabetic Foot Care
It involves a thorough assessment of your diabetic feet and formulation of a preventative treatment plan. The foot check involves testing your sensation and circulation status as well as looking for other potential risk factors. Many people with diabetes are entirely unaware that they need to take special care of their feet and visit a podiatrist at once if problems arise is essential. People with diabetes need to have their feet checked at least once a year.
Due to the seriousness of diabetes and the potential severity of its effects, we also educate diabetics on a regular basis about the manifestations of decreased circulation, decreased nerve sensation, weakened bones and collapsed joints. Education on foot care which aims to prevent the foot complications associated with diabetes has become widely recognised as an important aspect of diabetes education programs.
Of all of the foot problems our patients can present with, there is little that is more serious to life or limb than a foot complication due to diabetes. It is important to discuss your mobility and footcare problems with your Podiatrist. Your Podiatrist can advise which treatment or professional support is most appropriate to your needs.
Prevention is the best cure when it comes to caring for your feet with diabetes and regular podiatry visits are essential. Diabetes can be a serious disease, but with the right care the possibility of complications can be reduced. If you or someone you know has Diabetes insist that they have an assessment from a Podiatrist.