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Diabetes – Feet Assessments & Treatment

Diabetes – Feet Assessments & Treatment

Do you have diabetes or know someone who does? Well you’re not alone, almost 1.5 million Australians have diabetes, and the numbers are steadily increasing as the years go by. Diabetes impacts on the way your body regulates blood sugar. Diabetes can have additional impacts on your feet. It is important to see a podiatrist to perform a diabetes assessment to make sure your feet are functioning well in regards to blood flow and nerve sensation.

Whats the difference between type 1 and 2 diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes is the less common form of diabetes, which affects around 10-15% of diabetics. It is usually diagnosed in younger people but it can also occur at any age.

Some of the common symptoms with type 1 diabetes include:

  • being thirsty and drinking much more than usual
  • going to the toilet more often
  • feeling tired and low on energy
  • unexplained weight loss
  • genital thrush
  • mood changes

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes, which affects around 85-90% of diabetics. It is usually diagnosed in adults, however, younger people and children can also develop type 2 diabetes.

Some of the common symptoms with type 2 diabetes are:

  • being thirsty and drinking more than usual
  • going to the toilet more often
  • feeling tired and low on energy
  • sores or cuts that take longer to heal than normal
  • blurred vision
  • itching and skin infections
  • abnormal nerve sensations such as numbness and tingling in the legs or feet

How does diabetes affect the feet?

There are many changes with the feet that can happen for people with diabetes. Depending on how many years you have had it for or your usual blood sugar level range, its effect on the feet will vary.

Diabetes can affect the blood supply going to a person’s legs and feet, and it can also affect the nerves in their feet.

If diabetes is not managed appropriately, then the blood supply to the feet may be reduced. Reduced blood flow to the feet means that cuts and bruises will take longer to heal.

The nerves in the feet can also be affected, which can lead to feelings of numbness, burning, tingling, and pins and needles. If diabetes is poorly managed, it is possible to lose the feelings in your feet, this is called peripheral neuropathy. This is dangerous because a rock could be in your shoes when you are walking and you wouldn’t be able to feel it, which can damage the skin underneath the feet.

Assessments

Performing a range of clinical assessments is important to determine how much the feet have been affected by diabetes.

The following assessments are performed by a podiatrist for people with diabetes or at risk of developing diabetes:

Vascular assessment which includes checking the each foot’s skin colour, skin temperature, nail growth and hair growth, and palpating pedal pulses. If required, we can also use a Doppler Ultrasound machine to find out the blood flow in the feet (similar to an ultrasound for pregnant women).

Neurological assessment, which includes checking the nerve fibres with a monofilament test to find out how much feeling is in each foot (see image below).

Treatments

What is the best way for me to manage my diabetes?

For starters, it is important to make sure that you regularly visit your doctor to get your blood sugar levels tested every few months. With regards to podiatry, we can provide regular foot care including nails and skin checks. Any other foot related issues would also be addressed in our consults.

We recommend that if you have diabetes (or are considered pre-diabetic) to get a foot assessment performed once every year to check the blood flow and nerves in your feet.

If you are interested in getting your feet assessed and to know more about how diabetes affects your feet, visit our website to book an appointment with us today.

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