November is Diabetes awareness month and the Footwork Orthotics team would like to begin our first blog by suggesting tips on Diabetic foot care. There are many challenges that individuals living with diabetes face, and foot care is no exception. It is important to pay special attention to your foot health to prevent future complications. Diabetes can cause a loss of sensation in the feet and lower limbs, often referred to as peripheral neuropathy. The risk of developing neuropathy increases with age and overall duration of diabetes diagnosis. Common signs include numbness, tingling in the feet, and pain. The severity of one’s pain could fluctuate from a burning sensation, to having a hypersensitivity to touch. However, this will depend on the individual and the amount of feeling they retain in their foot. Unfortunately, there is no way to reverse foot sensation once lost. Therefore, proper education and regular visits to your local doctor will help prevent problems like Diabetic ulcers. Ulcers often are caused by shearing forces in a person’s footwear. These can occur because of ill fitted footwear or undetected seems inside the footwear, because of the loss of sensation these may not be felt by the diabetic patient. Unfortunately; if left untreated the ulcers can cause permanent damage, even amputation of a toe, part of the foot or the entire lower leg, 50% of lower leg amputations are diabetic related.
Another problem that could occur with diabetes is Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD). Similarly, this disease affects the extremities where the blood vessel function becomes impaired, causing poor circulation. As a result, the body has a difficult time healing wounds, which could ultimately lead to further health complications.
Here are a few simple tips that could help Diabetic patients better manage their feet to avoid potential complications.
- Foot hygiene – Thoroughly wash, dry and moisturize feet every day. Try to avoid excess amounts of moisture between the toes as it could cause fungus to grow. Also, it is best to keep toenails trimmed, but try to avoid cutting them too short.
- Proper fitting footwear –Ensure there is enough space in the shoes for your feet! If the foot is overcrowded in a shoe it could impair circulation. Additionally, wear clean and light coloured socks, this will help when recognizing cuts or blisters.
- Inspect feet daily – Complete a detailed inspection of your feet. Check for redness, cuts, bruises, blisters or any other noticeable changes. Don’t forget to check the toenails for cracks or ingrown nails. If for whatever reason you are having difficulty examining your feet, use a mirror, or ask a family member or friend!
Finally, custom orthotics are an excellent preventative treatment plan that could help offload tricky problem areas, and improve overall foot function. You can receive custom orthotics from a certified Pedorthist, or other related certified clinician, after a thorough assessment has been completed. A visit to our team at Footwork Orthotics could be the first step to achieving proper diabetic foot care.
Author: Daniel Gemmell C.Ped(C)
If you want to learn more about diabetic care or make a donation to help find a cure, please visit Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. One of many great resources and groups fighting this disease: