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People with diabetes may suffer foot problems


Problems can include foot ulcers, infections and nerve damage if they are not caught at an early stage.

Podiatrists have an important role to play in preventing and managing foot complications among people with diabetes. Diabetes has many effects on the feet, including:

  • Nerve damage, resulting in numbness, burning sensation, pain, coldness, pins and needles or tingling while at rest
  • Blocked blood vessels or decreased blood flow with fewer nutrients reaching the feet - without proper nourishment, wounds on the foot may not heal in the normal time period
  • Weakened bones causing a shift in the foot, which may change the way the foot distributes pressure
  • Collapsed joints, especially in the area of the arch
  • Blisters and Calluses, a person with diabetes may be more vulnerable to blisters and callus formation
  • Ulcers or wounds occur more easily as a result of the breakdown of several layers of skin
  • A breakdown of tissue goes all the way to the bone, and secondary bone infection can occur, in some cases resulting in the loss of the foot
Prevention is better than cure
  • Wear properly fitting shoes and socks
  • Exercising the feet can increase blood flow and keep the foot flexible
  • Avoid extreme heat and cold on the feet
  • Avoid crossing the legs, this may affect already-decreased blood circulation
  • Avoid over-the-counter medications, such as corn pads and paints, they may be ineffective or in some cases make the condition worse
  • Avoid walking barefoot – a person with diabetes can injure their feet by walking barefoot and stepping on sharp objects, nails or glass
  • Follow a recommended diet for people with diabetes
When to see a Podiatrist

It is essential that a person with diabetes has regular check-ups with their Podiatrist, they can assist by:

  • Trimming nails to prevent them becoming thickened and ingrown
  • Treating blisters so they do not become ulcers and infections
  • Conducting an examination to look for signs of decreased circulation, decreased nerve sensation, weakened bones and collapsed joints
  • Providing advise on the purchase of suitable shoes, insoles and devices to relieve pressure and pain to abnormal sensitive sites on the feet
  • To make sure any infection, laceration, wounds or signs of a foreign object in the foot are to be treated promptly

A person with diabetes should seek advice when they notice the following:

  • The colour changes in feet - when paleness or bluishness of the toes occurs, this indicates a decrease in circulation, black skin is a sign of dead tissue, and redness with streaks is often a sign of infection
  • Abnormal swelling and tenderness occurs, this may be the result of poor circulation or infection
  • Extra-warm areas may mean an infection has started - extra coolness may mean a decrease of circulation
  • Pins and needles, numbness, tingling, burning is experienced, this may be the result of nerve damage in the foot
  • Hot spots are noticed, these are caused by friction or pressure - these may turn into blisters, corns or calluses
  • Cracks, wounds and ulcers develop - these may be caused by dry or irritated skin, decrease in circulation, or abnormal pressure

Podiatrists have an important role to play in preventing and managing foot problems. Prompt action is important. Problems which are left without assessment or treatment may result in major health risks. Find a Podiatrist now.