Diabetic Foot

Over 10% of people who suffer with diabetes will have some form of foot problems related to their condition. The major problems associated with diabetes are neuropathy, macrovascular and microvascular problems, which all combine and can lead to damage to your foot. The most severe treatment, amputation, is required in over 10% of patients who have diabetes and is a direct result of untreated foot problems. Many of these problems can be avoided as long as you know how to look after your feet well.

Loss of Feeling in the Foot & Amputations

When sensory neuropathy develops in the legs, it prevents you from being able to feel when your feet are painful and blistered. If you cannot feel the blistering, it often becomes a lot worse and can become infected. This can happen even in the smallest blisters or open foot injury. A recent study even suggested that you are 155 times more likely to need an amputation if you are diabetic and have an infected foot wound, than if you did not have diabetes.

Once your foot has become infected it begins to ulcerate at which point your body has problems removing the bacteria because of the poor blood supply to your feet. Sometimes this infection can worsen and your foot can develop gangrene if not treated rapidly. This is a major reason for foot amputation in diabetic patients.

You are more likely to develop foot problems and ulcers if you are diabetic, smoke, have a high fat diet and are overweight or obese. You are at the highest risk if you have had the condition for over 20 years and are using insulin replacement therapy.

Preventing Foot Ulcers

To help prevent you from developing foot ulcers, you should learn to care for your feet properly. It is suggested that you:

  • Check your feet daily
  • Go to the doctors if you notice any changes
  • Ensure your shoes are comfortable and fit well
  • Wear well padded socks
  • Avoid wearing tight stockings or socks
  • Visit a chiropodist to help care for your toe nails
  • Don’t expose your feet to heat sources (hot baths, radiators etc)

By following these steps, you can ensure that your feet remain in the best possible condition.

Another serious complication of diabetic neuropathy is Charcot Foot or neuropathic arthropathy. This condition mimics an infection, with your foot becoming swollen and warm. The major problem with this condition is that it leads to bone erosion and deformation of your foot. It develops in 1 in 40 people who have diabetes, usually only if you have severe neuropathy to the extent that you cannot feel your foot.

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