What is Diabetes? How can it affect my feet?

15 Jun, 2020

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a very common condition affecting approximately one in twenty Australians and is ranked seventh in the leading cause of mortality and disease burden in Australia1,2. Considered a chronic disease, diabetes, alters the way in which the body processes blood glucose, causing high blood glucose or “sugars”. In those with poorly controlled or undiagnosed diabetes, the increased amounts of blood glucose can adversely affect many parts of the body and can be the secondary causes of blindness, heart attacks, stroke, kidney disease and lower limb amputations, it is a condition that often requires management from several different practitioners.

How can Diabetes affect my feet?

Foot problems are a common problem with people who have been diagnosed with diabetes for a long time or have had poorly managed blood glucose levels for an extended period. Nerve damage and reduced blood flow to the feet are the primary complications that require monitoring.

Diabetic neuropathy most often affects the legs and feet and occurs when the nerves are damaged this can cause some altered sensations such as:

  • Numbness
  • Tingling
  • Pins and needles
  • Burning sensations
Feet diabetes

Diabetes is also a risk factor for Peripheral Arterial Disease which restricts the amount of blood flow in your legs and feet. When your feet are not receiving an adequate blood supply, the skin becomes fragile and will also result in poor wound healing.

Some symptoms of Peripheral Arterial Disease include:

  • Painful cramping of legs and/or feet
  • Cold feet, especially if one side is colder than the other
  • Shiny, fragile and hairless skin
  • Brittle or slow growing nails

Both neuropathy and peripheral arterial disease can increase the risk of developing foot ulcers, infections or amputations. Anyone with diabetes or displaying any of the symptoms mentioned above should regularly see a podiatrist for ongoing assessment, this will allow for early detection and monitoring of any complications. Our friendly podiatrists are equipped with a doppler ultrasound machine to assess artery health in the feet and tools to detect sensation.

What you can do to keep feet healthy

  • Daily monitoring of changes to feet and legs i.e. swelling, discolouration, temperature, pain
  • Check feet daily, if you see something abnormal, you should seek treatment.

Things that you should look out for include:

  • Bruising or cuts with unknown cause
  • Ulcers
  • Cracked heels
  • Ingrown toenails
  • Corns, callous and warts
  • Thickened nails
  • Brittle or discoloured nails
  • Split skin between the toes
  • Abnormal foot odour
  • Hammer toes, bunions or other toe deformities
  • Clean and dry feet well (especially between the toes)
  • Record and monitor blood glucose levels
  • Wear shoes and socks all of the time, ensuring that shoes fit well
  • Moisturise feet daily

If you or your friends and family are suffering from diabetes give us a call at Gen Physio, we have a friendly team of professionals that are dedicated to changing the lives of our clients. All of our clinicians are mobile and come to your own home to conduct an examination. Give us a call on 1300 122 884 to book a consultation today.


You may also like…