Diabetes is probably the most damaging disease that a patient can encounter with regards to their feet. Many members of our community both young and old suffer from "Diabetes Mellitus" a disorder that results in elevated blood sugar levels. A person with diabetes needs to pay special attention to their feet, as they have special needs.
Diabetes puts your feet at risk:
- Diabetes may cause a narrowing or hardening of the arteries, and hence reduce the circulation or blood supply to the feet. This results in feet healing slower, thus making ulcers and gangrene more likely. Cramps or painful legs may also be experienced when walking or resting.
- Diabetes can lead to the damage of the small nerve endings of the feet. This is known as neuropathy and results in the absence of pain; therefore, injuries to the feet can sometimes go unnoticed, as they cannot be felt. Nerves can also become painful which may lead to burning and aching sensations. Numbness, tingling or pins and needles may also be experience.
- Diabetes increases the risk of infections, like tinea or cellulitis. Due to the higher sugar levels in the blood, your body is not efficient in resisting and fighting infections.
Diabetes can be controlled with medications, diet and exercise. A serious condition occurs if the sugars are out of control and a lesion (sore or ulcer) develops on the plantar (bottom) of the foot. The goal and treatment of diabetics with foot ulcers is to relieve the pressure, prevent infection and ultimately ensure the patient does not lose their limb. It is important that a patient with a foot ulcer seek medical advice.
The podiatrists are involved in the maintenance of healthy feet in people with diabetes by providing ongoing regular footcare programs as well as assisting in established cases of foot conditions where a team approach may be used, including your podiatrist, family doctor, diabetes specialist, nursing services and diabetes educators.
This information is a client service provided by Sports Science Podiatry Pty. Ltd. and cannot be reproduced without the permission of Sports Science Podiatry Pty. Ltd. This information is Version 1.4 relevant as from July 2002. Please contact your Podiatrist if you have any further questions.