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Understanding diabetic foot problems

Foot care amongst diabetics is incredibly important and people who have diabetes often suffer with foot problems. Diabetes can lead to peripheral nerve damage, accelerated peripheral arterial disease and a reduced ability to fight infection making the foot more vulnerable. Even a small blister could pose a threat to amputation therefore extra care should be taken with the feet. If you are a diabetes sufferer it is recommended to see a trained foot health care professional on a regular basis.

What symptoms should I look out for?

If you have any symptoms of unusual pain such as redness in the foot, swelling, injury to the foot, infection or ulcer make sure this is checked by your doctor or diabetic nurse as soon as possible as certain tests maybe required. If tests are required then usually you will be referred to a diabetic foot clinic to try and identify the problem and look to plan treatment before the problem becomes too severe.

Is a diabetic foot treatable?

This simple answer here is yes! Depending on the nature of the problem there are many treatments available. Wounds can be cleaned and dressed, and sometimes antibiotics might be needed. However if the infection is severe then usually a visit to the hospital for intra-venous antibiotics will be required.

The presence of high blood glucose (sugar) levels over a long period of time may result in a condition called diabetic neuropathy (damage to the nerves) or loss of circulation in the extremities of the body.

If the nerves in your feet or legs are damaged, your feet can lose sensation and become numb. Therefore, the foot has to be protected in special shoes, usually an aircast boot (like a ski boot) or even in a plaster. If the circulation is reduced you will need scans of the arteries and your healthcare provider will make a decision about how to improve the circulation with either angioplasty or stenting of surgical bypass.

When the foot is ulcerated or deformed, with poor circulation it can prove a challenge to your healthcare provider. You can help spend much less time in clinic, in casts and dressings, antibiotics and surgical procedures if we can prevent and detect any underlining issues as soon as possible.

Checking your feet

You should regularly examine your own feet for signs of damage. Especially if you are suffering from poor circulation and numbness.

Look out for any of the following signs of foot damage:

  • Cuts

  • Bruising

  • Swelling

  • Grazes

  • Sores

  • Changes in colour

  • Ulceration

  • Hard skin

Also be aware of any cracking from dry skin as this could develop into an ulcer over time.

This article is intended to inform and give insight but not treat, diagnose or replace the advice of a doctor. Always seek medical advice with any questions regarding a medical condition

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