Remember: it is always safer to know your risk status for diabetic foot complications.
All types of diabetes can cause complications to your feet over time. Regular diabetes assessments with your podiatrist are effective preventative care to ensure future foot health.
Types of diabetes include:
– Type 1
– Type 2
– Insulin resistance (pre-diabetes)
Podiatrists play an important role in the team of health professionals who manage diabetes.
Anyone with any type of diabetes benefit from diabetic foot assessments. They provide baseline values for future comparison and allow us to track foot health progression over time.
Diabetes and high blood sugar (hyperglycaemia) begins to decrease the blood flow and nerve health to your feet. Without proper monitoring and management, this can lead to:
-Decreased sensation in the feet a.k.a. peripheral neuropathy. This can mean you injure your feet or break the skin and not feel the injury.
-Poor blood flow to the feet, delaying healing of cuts and wounds.
-Muscle wastage of the smallest muscles in your feet, leading to stiff clawed feet with high pressure areas.
-A higher likelihood of developing bacterial and fungal infections on the feet and nails.
-Poorer eyesight making it more difficult to notice problems and care for your feet.
These effects are often accelerated if you also have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, are inactive, or if you smoke cigarettes.
What will happen during a diabetic foot assessment?
Firstly, we will ask you a range of questions about your diabetic management. This will include asking about your self-management, your overall health and habits, and looking at your footwear.
Next we will complete a range of neurological assessments on you to look at your nerve health. We will also use a doppler ultrasound to look at the quality of your arterial blood flow (circulation to the feet, see image). We will also look at your skin and nails to assess for high pressure areas as they are at higher risk to be a wound site.
Finally, we may ask you to do some tests where we assess you standing and walking to check for your balance, muscle strength, and lower limb alignment. You can ask any questions you have about your diabetes, footwear advice, or anything else related to your feet.
After your assessment, we will write to your GP with our findings and let you know how frequently you should have a diabetic foot assessment done. We will also provide you with some education for the best ways you can look after your feet.