Diabetes and Foot Problems

Individuals with long standing type I or type II diabetes mellitus whom have a history of poor control characterised by sustained, elevated and fluctuating blood glucose levels are at increased risk of developing diabetic foot disease. These individuals have a reduced ability to fight infection, have increased risk of developing kidney and eye complications and have the potential to develop limb threatening “diabetic feet”. In the foot there are 2 main structures that are vulnerable to diabetic damage; these include the peripheral nerve endings and blood vessels. Damage to these structures can expose the feet to trauma and increase ones risk of developing pressure ulcerations which can take months to heal.

Diabetes complications/symptoms

Peripheral nerve and blood vessel diabetic complications usually begin in the foot and can lead to a patient developing an array of symptoms ranging from numb/sore feet, exercised induced leg pain, infection, ulcerations, delayed wound healing, aching, burning, tightness, dry cracked skin, night cramps and swollen ankles just to name a few. To reduce the risk of developing foot disease it is imperative that “at risk” patients seek appropriate and specialised diabetic foot care on a regular basis. Peninsula Foot clinic has numerous clinics located along the Mornington Peninsula, Melbourne and provide excellent service in the flied of “diabetes and the feet”.

Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy

Diabetic peripheral neuropathy otherwise referred to as a loss of protective sensation can lead to foot injuries that have the potential to develop into diabetic foot ulcerations. This nerve damage begins in the toes and can progress up the leg in more advanced stages. Symptoms of diabetic peripheral neuropathy include numbness, tingling and “abnormal sensations”. In more advanced cases the neuropathy can progress to affect muscle function and the autonomic nervous system which is responsible for sweat production, resulting in dry cracked skin. A skilled podiatrist can test to see if a patient has developed diabetic peripheral neuropathy and develop an individualised care plan to reduce the risk of tissue injury and maintain adequate foot health.

Diabetic Vascular Disease

Diabetic vascular disease refers to the reduction in circulation in the foot/feet. It is the process by which the blood vessels become hard and narrow potentially blocking the blood supply to the foot. Symptoms of such foot disease include foot pain, leg pain, nocturnal cramping in the foot and/or leg, poor hair and nail growth, cold feet and delayed wound healing. Your expert podiatrist at Peninsula Foot Clinic located on the Mornington Peninsula, Melbourne will test your circulation with specialised ultrasound equipment. To help reduce the risk of vascular foot disease one must avoid smoking, limit intake of fatty foods, control blood pressure and blood glucose levels. Regular exercise, daily moisturising and massage will also help to improve your circulation.

Diabetes and the Foot: Important Footcare

It is imperative that individuals seek appropriate diabetic footcare as any break in the skin can lead to limb threatening infection and/or ulceration that can take months to heal. Proactive footcare at home including basic daily foot checks and maintenance will help to identify early foot disease. It is however important that you consult your podiatrist at Peninsula Foot Clinic located on the Mornington Peninsula, Melbourne to have a comprehensive diabetes foot assessment. The highly skilled podiatrist will identity and treat your feet providing you with the tools necessary to help reduce the risk of developing long-term diabetic foot problems. Basic foot care should include the following;

  • Good hygiene practices
  • Checking the skin surfaces for calluses, corns, cracks
  • Checking nails for infection and in-grown toenails
  • Applying emollient
  • Checking footwear. Wearing supportive, well fitted shoes
  • Wearing natural fibre socks, cotton or woollen blends
  • Exercise
  • Good diabetic control