Diabetes is a condition that develops when the pancreas either fails to produce enough insulin to control the amount of glucose in the blood, or fails to use the insulin properly.
Diabetes can reduce the circulation and sensation in your feet, diminishing awareness of changes in temperature, and of pain and touch. A complication of diabetes is reduced circulation (ischaemia), which reduces the blood flow to the peripheral tissues.
When combined with poor glucose control, smoking, poor footwear and the feet not being examined, ischaemia can lead to an increased risk of foot lesions and infections. This may result in foot ulceration and in extreme cases lead to amputation. Of course, this is not always the case - if noticed in time the ulcer can be treated.
Diabetes is likely to affect the body’s ability to heal, so any minor cuts or blisters may turn into a more serious problem if left untreated.
Diabetes can cause nerve damage; this is called Neuropathy. Sensory Neuropathy mainly affects the nerves in the feet and legs. The main danger of sensory neuropathy is loss of feeling in the feet. This means you may be unaware of any injuries or changes to your feet, which, if left untreated, may lead to more serious problems.
Symptoms of Neuropathy
- A tingling sensation, similar to pins and needles, in the toes, feet or lower leg
- Numbness in the feet
- Pain - a burning sensation, pins and needles or shooting pains in the feet, which can extend into the legs
- Cracked & dry heels
- High arch on feet and/or clawing of the toes
What can a Podiatrist do for you?
- A diabetic assessment will be carried out
- This will involve noting your HbA1c (Glucose control)
- Checking your blood supply
- Testing the feeling in your feet, checking for any other symptoms
- Giving advice on any changes in your lifestyle that are required
Both feet will be examined for:
- Condition of the nails
- Dry, flaky skin
- Evidence of fungal infection
- Colour of the skin on the feet and legs
- Abnormal skin lesions
- Corns, calluses and any other deformities
- Evidence of infection