Diabetes and lower limbs
Authored by Frahanah Ho, Podiatrist .
What is Diabetes and how can it affect you?
Diabetes is a lifelong serious health condition in which the body’s levels of blood glucose and the hormone insulin are out of balance. It is the fastest growing chronic disease in Australia. There are many complications associated with diabetes; particularly if it is poorly managed.
Foot complications are common and account for more hospital admissions than any other diabetic complication.
How diabetes affects the feet?
1. Neuropathy: Uncontrolled diabetes can damage the nerves. Damaged nerves in legs and feet result in a lack of feeling called “sensory diabetic neuropathy.” This means that you might have reduced sensation to heat, cold, or pain; which could lead to a lack of treatment and risk of infection.
2. Peripheral vascular disease: Poor circulation to the feet, due to blockage of the blood vessels.
Under these circumstances, even a minor foot problem of little significance to other people can be hazardous for people with diabetes.
Getting it checked by a Podiatrist
The consequences of diabetes manifest slowly over a period of time. As a result, by the time they are noticed it is often too late to prevent and the focus of treatment becomes the prevention of ulceration and the subsequent consequences.
Therefore diabetics are advised to have an assessment done by a Podiatrist. Diabetic Foot Assessment (DFA) consists of checking the:
- Circulation: pedal pulses via palpation and doppler ultrasound.
- Skin condition: anhidrotic, corns, callous, fissures, ulcers, infection, etc.
- Nerves: Sensation and reflexes.
A DFA will determine if you have already developed diabetes complications in your feet. DFA is usually done annually for low risk cases (good sensation and circulation) or more frequently for high risk cases (signs of neuropathy &/or PVD problems).
Then foot and nail care can be effectively managed to prevent potentially serious complications.