Diabetes and foot health

You may not be aware that diabetes is one of Australia’s most serious and costly chronic health conditions, with approximately 180,000 South Australians aged 25 or over at risk of or living with diabetes. These are alarming numbers, and we understand there’s a significant chance you, or someone close to you, are potentially affected. So, we’re looking to raise awareness surrounding some of the ways living with diabetes can affect day-to-day life. Specifically, we’re going to talk about feet, and how our podiatrists can help keep the diabetic in your life walking and running pain-free.

So, what are the main ways having diabetes can affect your feet?

Firstly, it can damage your nerves. This can lead to serious implications when it comes to any injuries you may sustain. Your nerves are responsible for telling your brain that you’re in pain, but if your nerves are damaged due to diabetes, this may leave you unable to detect something as simple as a blister or a small cut. This may not sound like a big deal, but diabetics can also suffer from decreased blood flow to their feet. So, when diminished pain and blood flow combine, this could lead to that small cut developing into a serious infection without you even realising. Unfortunately, many people with uncontrolled diabetes end up with wounds and ulcers that are difficult to heal.

For this reason, it is important that your feet follow a regular check plan. Luckily, our podiatrists are ready and waiting to help keep you on track and on your feet.

We’re able to perform a full assessment of your nerves and blood vessels to ensure you have adequate feeling and blood supply to your feet. Come in early enough, and we can identify any early areas of concern and manage them from the outset.

From this, regular routine treatments may also be advised. This involves a regular foot check, cutting and filing of nails and removing any corns and callous that you may have. This can help reduce the risk of foot complications. At the very least, a neurovascular assessment should be completed every 12 months.

Finally, if you’re feeling pain or pressure in one area in particular, our podiatrists may recommend orthoses or insoles to help relieve you.

Of course, outside of your check-up, it is easy to become complacent when managing diabetes and its side effects. That’s why we’ve complied a series of tips to help you manage your feet on your own.

The easiest way to manage your feet is to manage your diabetes itself, so test your blood sugar daily and make sure you’re in the range advised for you.

Beyond that, it is critical that you have your feet measured and footwear that fits you to perfection, and make sure you use that footwear too, as regular exercise encourages good blood circulation. Maintaining your footwear is almost as important as maintaining your feet, so at the first sign of discomfort, check your shoes for excessive wear or loose pebbles or prickles within. Always choose the appropriate footwear for the activity and avoid walking barefoot as much as you can.

Moisturise your feet to give them the best chance of remaining supple and healthy, but most importantly, inspect your feet daily or have a family member check for you. Look for signs of redness, swelling or pain. Use a mirror to see the bottom of your feet if you need. If you have any concerns at all, feel free to book an appointment with one of our friendly podiatrists.

You only get one pair of feet, so let us help you manage your diabetes and reduce its intrusion in your life, or the life of someone you care about. Book an appointment with our podiatrists today.

Sara Jenzen

Podiatrist, National Pharmacies Cumberland Park