Did you know there is a connection between your feet and diabetes? Diabetes is a condition in which the level of glucose (a sugar) in the blood is too high. This is caused by a problem with the hormone insulin and its role in controlling blood glucose levels. Diabetes may lead to higher risk of health complications including developing foot problems.
Every five minutes an Australian develops diabetes
The number of people with diabetes in Australia is three times higher today than it was 25 years ago. Every day, 280 Australians develop diabetes. That's around one person every five minutes. Around 1.7 million Australians have diabetes and don't even know it.
In the Yarra Ranges, the number of people with diabetes has risen by nearly 180% over the past ten years and each week seven new cases are diagnosed.
Is diabetes affecting you feet?
Having diabetes may increase your risk of developing related complications that include nerve damage or poor circulation in your feet. Nerve damage may affect how you feel pressure or pain and may lead to numbness in your toes or feet. Changes to your circulation may delay your ability to heal any cuts or sores, and may also increase your risk of developing ulcers that could even lead to amputations.
Seven signs to look out for
As feet are often the first place to show diabetes-related symptoms, it is important to get your feet checked by a podiatrist. Here are 7 signs and symptoms to look out for include:
1. Cold feet
3. A sharp pain in your leg after walking
4. Pins and needles
5. Changes in foot colour, such as redder skin
6. Any nail changes
7. Corns, calluses, cracked or dry skin
Do you have children? If you do, here are 6 tips for healthy kids feet.
Diabetic neuropathy is nerve damage that can ensue if you have diabetes. Diabetic neuropathy most often damages nerves in your legs and feet. Symptoms vary, including pain and numbness in your legs and feet to issues with your digestive system, urinary tract, blood vessels and heart.
You can take measures to prevent or slow the progress of diabetic neuropathy by monitoring your blood sugar control, eating healthy foods, exercising, reducing your sugar intake and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Peripheral neuropathy is the most common type of diabetic neuropathy, it effects the feet and legs first, followed by the hands and arms. Signs and symptoms can be worse at night, and may include:
- Numbness or reduced ability to feel pain or temperature changes
- Tingling or burning sensation
- Sharp pains or cramps or muscle weakness
- Increased sensitivity to touch - in some cases the weight of a bed-sheet can be painful
- Loss of reflexes, especially in the ankle and loss of balance and coordination
- Serious foot problems, such as ulcers, infections, and bone and joint pain
If you have any signs of an infection or your skin starts to breakdown, seek urgent care
What you can do to look after your feet
- Keep your blood glucose levels in your target range, avoid smoking, keep active and make sure you are up-to-date with your annual cycle of care visits.
- Make sure your feet are clean and dry.
- Moisturise your feet every day.
- Keep your toe nails trimmed.
- See your podiatrist regularly, especially if you notice any changes to your feet.
How can a podiatrist help?
Podiatrists are university trained health professionals. They are foot health experts and understand the structure and movement of your feet and lower limbs. They can assess, diagnose and treat foot and lower leg pain.
Inspiro's podiatrists can also connect you to our team of diabetes nurse educators and dietitians to help you manage your diabetes.
To book an appointment, call 9028 0153.
Our podiatrists can address help with ailments related to:
- Numbness or loss of feeling in your feet
- Skin and nail disorders
- Corns and calluses
- Ingrowing toenails
- Footwear issues
- Orthoses (non-chronic disease management care plan clients only)
- And much more!
Also see these articles
- Check out our Podiatry services at our new Belgrave building: Inspiro's open at Belgrave
- Read more about exercises for diabetes: Exercises for diabetes