what we need to monitor, and how we do it!
What is Diabetes and how does it affect feet?!
Diabetes is a name that covers a wide group of conditions including type 1, type 2, and gestational. Generally, diabetes causes high levels of glucose in the blood.
This high level of blood sugar, as well as constant fluctuation of blood sugar levels, places a high amount of strain on blood vessels. In the long term, this can result in a reduction in blood flow to your peripheries (hands, feet etc) and can also cause damage to your nerves, eyes and kidneys!
Diabetes is known to affect upwards of 1.4 MILLION people in Australia - so education about how it can adversely affect the body is very important!
Firstly, how will blood flow being reduced cause a problem with my feet?
Blood flow to the feet is crucial. It is the sole factor in determining whether or not you will heal a wound or cut to the skin, or deeper tissue. As well as this, reduction in blood flow will often also result in colder feet, reduction in nail and hair growth, as well as an increased risk of chilblains in the colder months.
As mentioned above, without adequate blood supply to the feet, a single small cut can lead to an open wound, infection, osteomyelitis (bone infection), and even amputation if left unmanaged - all because there isn't enough healthy blood getting to the cut to heal it!
Secondly, how will nerve damage cause a problem with my feet?
Tying in with the above information, nerve function is also critically important in keeping your feet healthy. Reduction in nerve function in the feet, or any degree of peripheral
neuropathy, means you will find it more difficult to detect pain. This means small cuts can go unnoticed, and fall into the dangerous path set out above - if you don't know the cut is there, then you won't do anything to fix it.
Nerve damage can also cause permanent burning, tingling, and numbness in the feet and toes if left unmanaged for a long period of time.
And lastly, what can I do to stop these things from happening!
The best way to prevent the above issues from occurring, and the very first thing you should do if you have diabetes, is visiting your family doctor or local GP to put a management plan in place. This is crucial, as depending on your diabetes and lifestyle factors, different management pathways may be offered. Once you have a plan in place - stick to it! Whether it be managing your diabetes via medication, diet, increasing your exercise, or all of the above, stick to the plan! Consistency in diabetes treatment is absolutely crucial, as constant changes to your blood glucose levels place a high amount of stress on your blood vessels!
On top of this, daily foot checks to ensure you haven't got any cuts or wounds, making sure your shoes aren't rubbing or causing blisters, moisturising to keep your skin barrier in healthy condition, as well as visiting your local podiatrist routinely, which leads us to our next section...
How does a Podiatrist monitor these things!
At the podiatrist, we monitor your blood flow and nerve condition via a series of tests. For blood flow, we start by using a doppler ultrasound unit to view the blood flowing through the main arteries in your feet.
We follow this up with two separate neurological tests - monofilament testing to check your sharps detection (your ability to sense pain), and vibration perception testing to check your proprioception (your coordination, spacial awareness in your feet).
Once we have tested these and have a baseline set of results, we continue to assess yearly, or sooner if there are any concerns, so that we can continue to compare results and monitor any change.
We will also manage your callus, corns and nails in a safe way, so that you don't have to risk cutting your nails and cutting away hard skin - minimising potential injury risk at home.
In summary, diabetes as a whole is a group of conditions that, when managed correctly, can be a non-impactful issue, something that can exist entirely in the background without causing any problems. However, if you do not manage your diabetes correctly, then the you risk a vast list of potential complications, some of which are lifelong and irreversible.
Are there any products you recommend to help keep my feet in good health?
Firstly, a good moisturiser containing Urea is a great item to have. The urea will help break down the dead skin cells so that your skin barrier is healthy.
Tea Tree Spray is another great natural option to help keep in between your toes nice and dry. Moisture in between the toes can lead to fungal infections or skin splitting.
Chilblain prevention cream is also a great item to keep in the cupboard for the colder months. This can be used preventatively to ensure that through cold weather you are keeping chilblains at bay.
All of the above products are available in the clinic, so if you want to ask any questions about them then just give us a call!
What should I do if I need some more information?
If you need any of the above information to be clarified, or you have any questions related to diabetes and feet, then please don't hesitate to give us a call on 1800 778 316.
We are always happy to help, so just let us know.
We hope these tips can help you keep your feet healthy and fresh! If you have any further concerns, don’t hesitate to contact us here at Foot Body Sole on 1800 778 316 or visit us at 82 Bridport St, Albert Park Vic 3206 ! We are here to help.