Want to know how diabetes affects your feet?

June 26, 2017

Want to know how diabetes affects your feet?

Diabetes is when the body is unable to convert blood glucose, (blood sugar), allowing blood sugar levels to vary greatly.  This can cause immediate and/or long term damage to the body’s soft tissues and particularly the nerves and blood vessels.  Often people with diabetes are at risk of developing serious and disabling foot conditions that can involve ulcers and sometimes lead to amputation. Continue reading to see how diabetes affects your feet.

Managing blood sugar levels through a well-planned diet and exercise regime can reduce the risk of complications however proactive podiatric care has been shown to be the most beneficial way to monitor and manage diabetes and the health of the foot.  It is common for people who have diabetes to have reduced feeling and blood flow in their feet and this is where monitoring the progress of the sensation loss and circulation can make a difference in reducing ulceration and amputation.

The benefits of having a podiatrist conduct a diabetic foot check:

  • Check the blood flow to your feet (circulation check using a digital Doppler machine as shown in the above photo)
  • Assess your sensitivity and reflexes (grading of nerve sensitivity)
  • Check and treat toenails – the condition of these and the likelihood of future complications.
  • Check and treat dryness, calluses, corns, cracks or infections (ongoing professional treatment and grooming of feet).
  • Assess the presence and manage any wounds/ulcers
  • Provide ongoing professional monitoring and interpretation of the results over time
  • We teach you how to look after your feet between check ups

When carefully monitored over time (and sometimes years), problems can be avoided that result from lack of sensation and poor blood flow to the feet. By utilising the latest technology such as Doppler ultrasound and pressure scans your results can be used for comparisons in the future.  This allows ongoing monitoring and management for diabetic patients.  Patients can therefore be well informed and proactive in the treatment of their illness.  Additionally they can feel confident knowing that we are communicating these results with the other medical practitioners and allied health practitioners involved in their care.

What is a Doppler Ultrasound and how is it used in diabetic screenings?

Doppler Ultrasound is used to assess the elasticity and integrity of the blood vessels in the lower extremities (your feet). The system uses high frequency sound to develop a clear assessment of the vascular status of the lower limbs, and provides both the patient and the patients’ medical practitioners with a detailed report that can be used in comparison at the 6-12 month reviews. This is offered as part of the treatment for the patients on a Chronic Disease Management Plan that have been referred by their GP. All diabetic patients are advised to utilise the Doppler Ultrasound every 12 months or more regularly if deemed to be a High Risk Diabetic or as advised by their GP.

We provide all results of a Neurovascular Screening to the patient and the relevant medical support staff such as the GP, Medical Specialist (such as Endocrinologist, Rheumatologist, Surgeon etc.) or any other Allied Health Practitioner (such as Dietician).

Pressure Analysis and how it helps stop ulcers

Research has shown that pressure under your feet can cause ulcers in diabetic patients.  We are able to measure these foot pressures using our Parotech technology. This is an insert that is placed inside your normal everyday shoes and is able to measure where there are points of pressure.  This technology unlike others is placed in direct contact with the foot and the test can be carried out while mimicking everyday tasks. From this your podiatrist can highlight possible risk areas.    Suggestions can then be made about types of shoes that can reduce this pressure or inserts that can be place inside your shoes to reduce the pressure.

A colour coded report is generated from the assessment and this information is excellent in providing a visual interpretation of the pressures. All practitioners involved in your care can be provided with this report and it can be used in  comparison from assessment to assessment.