Diabetes and Foot Health
What is Diabetes?
Unfortunately diabetes is the biggest challenge facing Australia’s health system, with approximately 1.75 million Australians living with diabetes today.
Diabetes is a complex condition, which can affect the whole body. If you are living with diabetes it is essential that you learn how to manage your diabetes to help prevent further complications from occurring. If not managed, diabetes can have a significant impact on quality of life and can reduce life expectancy.
Whilst diabetes can be problematic those that effectively manage their diabetes can have great outcomes and live an enjoyable life.
How does Diabetes affect the body?
When someone has diabetes, their body can’t maintain normal levels of glucose in the blood. Glucose is a form of sugar, which is the main source of energy for the human body. Unhealthy levels of glucose can lead to many health complications including:
· Heart attacks and strokes
· Loss of vision
· Kidney damage
· Limb amputations
· Depression and anxiety.
For the human body to function properly it is essential that glucose (sugar) is converted from food into energy, to do this a hormone called insulin is needed. In people with diabetes insulin is no longer produced by the body, or not produced in sufficient amounts. When people with diabetes eat foods containing glucose (such as breads, and other carbohydrates), it can’t be converted into energy. Instead the glucose stays in the blood resulting in high glucose levels.
Why are feet at risk with diabetes?
People with diabetes experience foot complications due to the damage that diabetes causes to the nerves in the feet, blood circulation, and infection. Due to these adverse affects having diabetes increases the risk of developing foot ulcers and amputations. This damage is more likely if:
· You have had diabetes for a long time
· Your blood glucose levels have been too high for an extended period of time
· You smoke, which reduces blood flow to the feet, slowing the healing rate of wounds
· You have a sedentary lifestyle
Daily Foot Checks
As diabetes can cause further complications to foot health, it is essential that those with diabetes undergo foot checks daily. The following should be looked for, and if present on the feet- seek medical treatment straight away.
· Ingrown nail
· Bruising or cuts
· Broken skin between toes
· Foot shape changes
· Cracked skin
Due to poor blood glucose control, people with diabetes can develop nerve damage to feet. Symptoms of nerve damage include:
· Cold legs
· Tingling, pins and needles sensation in the feet
· Burning pains in the legs and feet
These symptoms can lead to a loss of sensation to the feet, which increases the risk of damage to the feet, as the person can’t feel any pain. If this is not monitored people with diabetes may develop more severe complications such as chronic infection in the bones and joints of the feet.
Poor blood glucose control can reduce supply of blood to the feet. This makes people with diabetes more prone to infection after they sustain an injury that breaks the skin. Signs of poor blood supply to the feet include:
· Sharp leg cramps after walking short distances
· Pain in the feet, even at rest
· Feet feeling cold
· Feet looking reddish-blue colour
· Cuts which are slow to heal
Diabetes Foot Assessment
Here at the biomechanics, we aim to deliver the highest quality of care to help all clients with diabetes manage their foot health. Regular podiatry care plays a vital role in the prevention of diabetes foot complications. Therefore, we aim to provide patients with diabetes with the best practice when checking nerve supply and blood flow to their feet. During our comprehensive Diabetes Foot Assessments we will assess the current status of client’s foot health and help develop both short and long-term management strategies so all clients can have great outcomes and live an enjoyable life.
The following compensable schemes may be accessed with the appropriate referral
- Private Health Insurance
- Department of Veteran Affairs
- Medicare - referral required from a GP
Concession rates are also available on presentation of your government funded concession card.