04 Dec 2017 feet and shoes

A lot of people don’t realise that diabetes can adversely affect your legs and feet, as well as your diet and overall standard of health.

Here, we look at how diabetes affects your feet and what you can do to prevent the prevalence of any diabetes-related foot issues, as well as how to treat them, should any arise.

How Can Diabetes Affect Your Feet?

Diabetes is a condition that affects your bloodstream, and as such, it can damage the nerves in your feet, impair blood circulation, and increase your chances of developing infections. Diabetes can also increase your risk of developing foot ulcers, and needing an amputation (if your condition is left unchecked).

These issues are more likely to occur if you:

  • Have had diabetes for a long period of time
  • Your blood glucose levels have been too high for an extended amount of time
  • You’re a regular or heavy smoker (smoking can actually decrease blood flow to your feet, causing wounds to heal at a much slower rate)
  • You lead a sedentary lifestyle

Nerve Damage

A common issue with diabetes sufferers is nerve damage in the feet, due to poor blood glucose control. Some symptoms of this include:

  • Numb feet
  • Coldness in the legs
  • Tingly pins and needle type sensations in the feet
  • Burning sensations that can be felt in your legs and feet. This pain is usually most noticeable at night when you go to bed

As a result of the above-listed symptoms, diabetes sufferers can lose feeling in their feet, which increases the chances of injuries, as you can’t feel any pain. However, some sensory loss can be so subtle that the individual might not realise that they’ve lost any sensation. This level of loss is called protective sensation and can be diagnosed by your podiatrist.

Foot injuries can also lead to the formation of ulcers on the bottom of your foot, which can, in turn, penetrate and infect the bone, causing a chronic infection in the bones and joints. In severe cases, when this isn’t detected and treated in the early stages, it can lead to infected open sores and eventually amputation of the toes, foot, or limb.There can a subtle loss of sensation which may go unnoticed. This can be assessed by a podiatrist.

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, make an appointment with your Perth podiatrist today.

Blood Supply Issues

It’s common for diabetics to have poor glucose control, and as a result, not have a strong enough flow of blood to the feet. This makes diabetics more prone to infection when they suffer an injury that breaks or penetrates the skin. Some symptoms of poor blood supply to the feet include:

  • Leg cramps after walking short distances or up stairs
  • Cold feet
  • Discoloured feet (usually a reddish-blue colour)
  • Slow-healing cuts or injuries

If you’re experiencing any of the above issues, speak to your doctor or podiatrist about the most appropriate treatment methods for you.

How Can You Prevent Diabetes-Related Foot Issues

By checking your feet daily for any of the below symptoms/conditions, and seeking immediate treatment if any of them occur, you’ll be able to keep your feet in good health.

  • Ulcers
  • Any unusual swelling
  • Redness
  • Blisters
  • Ingrown nails
  • Bruising or cuts

Also, be on the lookout for any of the following symptoms/conditions and seek podiatric care within a few days should any of them occur:

  • Broken skin between your toes
  • Calluses or corns
  • Any changes to the shape or overall appearance of your feet
  • Cracked skin
  • Discoloured toenails

Caring for Your Feet

Wash, dry and check your feet every day. Also make sure you trim your toenails regularly (cut them straight across, not in the corner) and gently file any sharp edges.

Moisturise your feet daily to prevent dry and cracked skin from developing and wear comfortable fitting socks or stockings and shoes.

Diabetics should have their feet assessed by a podiatrist annually to determine the actual state of peripheral circulation and sensory awareness.

For more advice on how to properly care for your feet if you’re a diabetic, talk to Cannington Podiatry today, or consult with your Credentialed Diabetes Educator.