Diabetes is a disorder where the body is unable to convert sugar into energy due to inability to either produce or use insulin (pancreatic hormone) properly. In both cases, it causes a high level of sugar to accumulate in the blood stream. The long-term effect of this high sugar levels is damage to the eyes, heart, kidneys, feet, nerves, and blood vessels.
Complications that affect the feet include:
Neuropathy – Damage to the nerves changes in sensation (feeling) e.g. numbness, tingling, burning and tightness. If there is a total loss of the protective sensation, general damage to the skin can occur. Pressure sores may develop and if not noticed quickly they can result in ulceration. High sugar levels and ulceration increases the risk of foot infection. Foot infection increases the risk of amputation. Nerves are also the message pathways to your muscles. You may experience muscle weakness in the feet and legs and possibly even in the hands if your nerves are affected by high sugar levels.
Ischemia (poor blood flow) – This is a vascular disease where there is inadequate flow of blood to the foot due to constriction of the blood vessels. Excess sugar accumulates in the walls of the blood vessels as well as inside the blood vessel making it difficult to pump the blood down to the feet. If blood flow is limited or absent, the body’s ability to heal broken skin and fight infection is reduced. This can allow infection to spread into the tissues and leg resulting in cellulitis, gangrene or amputation.
Dry skin – Diabetes can affect the elasticity, or stretchiness, of the skin. This means that the skin is less resistant to pressure and friction. If your skin is dry, you are more likely to suffer from cuts and abrasions. It is best to apply a moisturiser to your feet and legs to maintain good skin health and reduce the risk of breaking the skin.
What the Podiatrists at Oxford Street Podiatry can do for you!
The key is to see a Podiatrist immediately for a Diabetes Foot Assessment when you are diagnosed with diabetes. This should then be followed up with foot check-ups at least once a year.
Your Podiatrist will conduct specific diagnostic tests to assess the presence or progression of diabetic complications such as those mentioned above, and to also determine if you have any other conditions that may place you at higher risk of amputation. They will advise you of things you can do to help reduce your risk of foot complications.
If you’re living in Mount Hawthorn, North Perth or Leederville give Oxford Street Podiatry a call today.