In Ireland, a total of 225,840 people are living with diabetes. The World Health Organization outlined diabetes as the most challenging health problem in the 21st century.
So, what is diabetes?
It is a condition where your blood sugar (glucose) level is too high due to a lack of insulin being produced in your body. Insulin is a hormone that is made by your pancreas and acts like a key to let blood sugars into your body cells for use as energy (Diabetes Ireland, 2021). If blood sugars remain high in your bloodstream for long periods of time it can cause serious health issues such as cardiovascular issues, kidney disease, and foot ulcerations.
There are 2 main types:
Type 1: your body does not make any insulin
Type 2: there is not enough insulin, or the body cells do not react to the insulin that is being produced.
Both types can be managed with insulin therapy, medication, a balanced diet, and daily exercise.
How does diabetes affect your feet?
At Mary Moore Podiatry we want to empower you to be Proactive with preventing Diabetic foot problems and feel confident about being active and enjoying exercise. We have seen our patients achieve this when they understand how unmanaged Diabetes can affect their feet. You may not be aware that diabetics are at a much greater risk of developing foot problems. One of the most debilitating complications is lower limb amputation and typically over 60% of all lower-limb amputations are in people with diabetes.
Symptoms such as leg cramps at night and when walking may in fact be symptoms of poor blood circulation in your legs and feet. Over time, plaque can build up in your arteries which will restrict nutrient-rich blood to travel around your body. This increases the risk of infection and foot ulceration, due to an impaired slower immune response.
Diabetic Foot Neuropathy is a common feature of diabetic foot issues. But what is it?
This is where high blood sugars damage the smallest nerves in your feet and as a result, the protective mechanism that we call sensation is reduced or completely lost. Without feeling in our feet any cut, blister, or sore can go unnoticed, allowing time for the injury to become infected. Other symptoms may also include tingling in your toes and feet, numbness, and burning sensation.
It will come as no surprise that changes in your foot sensation can follow with alterations to your gait and balance. Studies have shown that diabetic peripheral neuropathy can lead to gait unsteadiness, tight calf muscles, Achilles tendons, and ankle joints causing more pressure to the front of your foot with a risk of ulceration. Changes to toe muscle strength due to motor neuropathy can lead to hammertoes and toe ulceration.
What can you do to prevent diabetic complications in your feet?
Essential Diabetic foot care tips.
1) Take a few moments and inspect your feet, hosiery and shoes every day.
2) Wear supportive, well-fitting, comfortable footwear. See our recent blog Footwear and The High Risk Foot
3) Be careful of shower and bath temperatures.
4) Don’t walk barefoot
5) Don’t wear slip-on shoes
6) Don’t use hot water bottles
7) Any cuts or blisters to your feet should be checked by your Podiatrist
8) Do moisturize your feet with good quality urea-based emollients, but not between your toes
9) Do keep exercising and walking, it’s great for blood sugar control and bone strength
10) Do keep your foot appointments scheduled by your Podiatrist
At Mary Moore Podiatry we take a proactive approach to your foot care.
This is why we have set up the ACTION TAKER DIABETIC FOOT ASSESSMENT. Please, see the details of this service in the video below.