Diabetes

If you have diabetes then your feet and legs have significant risks that you must be aware of to effectively maintain your lower limb heath. There are two ways that diabetes affects your feet.

Reduces your sensation

Impairs your circulation

When combined, these two effects mean that you have a higher risk of developing infections and ulcerations – which is why it’s so important to pay special attention to your feet.

As your circulation and sensation will progressively worsen over time, the way that you care for your feet and the advice we give you needs to be specific to the symptoms you’re experiencing at the time. This is why we perform annual diabetic foot assessments, so you stay fully informed of how your feet are being affected and the steps you should be taking to look after your feet.

Diabetes affects your ability to feel (Peripheral Neuropathy)

Diabetes can cause damage to the nerves in your feet and legs. Your nerves are responsible for your ability to feel, so nerve damage means that your ability to feel may worsen, become altered, and may eventually be lost altogether. This is called peripheral neuropathy. Altered sensations usually start in the feet. You may notice:

Numbness

Tingling

Pins and needles

Burning

As time goes on, you may completely lose sensation in the feet. Unlike the blanket-like feeling of numbness, this is the complete absence of any sensation in certain areas of the feet. The danger here is that it renders you vulnerable to being sustaining a cut or wound and being unable to feel it, hence not responding and treating it. The injury could be something small like a pin, nail, or splinter. Any wound that results will be susceptible to infection, and the area may ulcerate, if it’s not detected and treated.

Person rubbing their feet

Diabetes impairs your circulation

Diabetes can also damage your blood vessels, which impairs the blood flow to your feet. A reduced blood supply means a longer healing time for any cuts and breaks in the skin. If blood flow is impaired, you may experience:

Cold feet

Pale skin appearance

Dry skin around the feet

Brittle toenails

Absence of hair growth on the toes

When paired with an increased risk of sustaining undetected cuts and wounds from reduced sensation, you have a greater risk of infection as your cuts will take longer to heal and close. An impaired blood flow means that infections are harder to fight, and persist for longer. This increases your risk of developing a diabetic foot ulcer, which is the leading cause of lower limb amputation in Australia aside from traumatic injuries.

What can you do to help your feet?

While there is no cure for diabetes, managing your diabetes and blood sugar effectively can slow down the progression of symptoms.

Understanding your risks and taking preventative measures to reduce them is another key aspect of managing diabetes. This is exactly what we assess and discuss with you during your diabetic foot assessment. Looking after your feet can include:

Moisturising the feet daily to improve sensation

Checking for any cuts or breaks in the skin

Wearing closed shoes outside and slippers inside

Monitoring how long any wounds take to heal and getting help if it is longer than normal

Monitoring for signs of infection

Need to book your diabetic assessment?

Book online or get in touch
with us today

Need to book your diabetic assessment?

Book online or get in touch with us today