How Diabetes Affects Your Feet
Nerve damage is also known as neuropathy and occurs when the small blood vessels supplying the nerves in the feet don’t work as well as they should, leading to loss of sensation in the feet and legs.
High glucose levels also damage your blood vessels leading to poor blood supply particularly in your legs and feet. With reduced blood circulation, the tissues, muscles and skin are starved of nutrients and oxygen. Due to both this and a weakened immune system the ability to fight infection is greatly reduced.
If neuropathy is present it is likely that deformities such as hammer toes or bunions may cause corns, callus, blisters etc. which if not detected, can lead to infection and or ulceration. If these are not promptly treated the outcome can be as serious as amputation.
Keeping control of your diabetes, cholesterol and blood pressure will help to reduce the risk of developing problems with your feet.
What you can do to prevent Foot Problems
80% of Lower limb amputations are preceded by a foot ulcer and 80% of these can be prevented by early intervention, i.e. regular foot screening.
Most complications related to diabetes are caused by high blood glucose. By staying in your target blood glucose range you can reduce your risk.
Nerve damage often shows itself gradually, because of this you may not know that you are at risk of foot problems. As a diabetic you need to be aware of a reduced appreciation of pain, heat and cold.
This is where the importance of regular foot screening comes in. Have your feet routinely checked with a professional foot care provider who will check if there are any changes to your nerve and blood supply or to the shape and condition of your feet.
Foot Screening at Waterford Foot Clinic – What to Expect
The aim of Diabetes Foot Screening is to ascertain how at risk you are of developing foot problems.
So What happens?
After removing your shoes and socks we will examine your feet for skin, nail or structural deformities.
We will then carry out a Neurological assessment (checking for loss of feeling) and a Vascular assessment (checking for reduced blood circulation).
We will also check your footwear to make sure that they fit well and are structurally suitable for you.
Based on this assessment you are given advice on how to properly manage your feet and how often they should be assessed.
Patient education is of the utmost importance to us and every effort will be made to familiarize you with the knowledge you need to keep your feet healthy and problem free.
Adopt a self check routine at home and download a Waterford Foot Clinic Daily Foot Care Routine and advice brochure here.
Risk categorization is in line with the HSE National Diabetes Programme, Clinical Strategy and Programmes Directorate 2011.