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Diabetes and foot care: Can your podiatrist be doing more?

Take a moment to reflect and answer each question below, before reading our information to learn more about how a podiatrist can help you maintain healthy diabetic feet. 

1. What is your risk for developing diabetes-related foot complications?
2. Do you know what changes to look for when you check your feet?
3. Are you confident that your footwear is safe for your feet?
4. Do you need to see a podiatrist if you have diabetes?

What is your risk for developing diabetes-related foot complications?

There are many diabetes-related foot complications e.g. infections, foot deformities, ulcerations, amputations, etc., but the most common are poor circulation and nerve damage to the feet. Poor circulation delays healing time and increases infection risk, even if it’s a seemingly small cut or injury! Meanwhile, nerve damage may cause numbness, tingling, and a loss in normal sensation. However, not ALL types of sensation are affected, and you may not notice if you have hurt yourself!

Did you know?

If you have diabetes then you are already at risk of developing foot complications. At least 15% of people with diabetes will develop a foot ulcer, and diabetes is also the main reason for non-traumatic lower limb amputations in Australia. These diabetes-related foot complications are a huge physical and financial burden but can be easily prevented.

Our recommendation

If you are unsure about your risk status for diabetes-related foot complications, then talk to your podiatrist or GP for a risk assessment.

Do you know what changes to look for when you check your feet?

Everyone with diabetes should have a daily foot-care routine that includes checking your feet for changes. Some changes include cuts, sores, or other injuries, nail and skin appearance, temperature, sensation, and foot shape.

Fact: Pressure is another cause of foot ulcers – this can come from thickened nails, a build-up of hard skin or corns, or a foot deformity. With intact sensation, these issues can cause pain and discomfort, but with nerve damage, you may not feel the pain and continue putting pressure on the affected areas. Eventually, this area can ulcerate which, if left uncontrolled could lead to an amputation!

Our recommendation 

We encourage a simple physical checklist or a smart device reminder to ensure you remember to do your daily foot check. Use mirrors, phone cameras on a selfie stick, or ask someone to help check and care for your feet if you cannot reach them yourself.  If there are any changes, see your podiatrist or GP immediately!

Watch this video from Diabetes Queensland on how to perform your daily foot check. 

Download and print a copy of Diabetic Foot Australia's daily foot care checklist.

Are you confident that your footwear is safe for your feet?

Everyone with diabetes should wear shoes that are well-fitting and do not cause rubbing or pressure points. Socks should also be clean, well-fitting, and have minimal or no seams. Don’t forget to check your socks and shoes before wearing them to ensure there is nothing that could cause an injury.

Did you know?

Your footwear plays an important part in preventing diabetes-related foot complications. Poor footwear can cause calluses, corns and foot deformities, which can all cause foot ulcers. An Australian study showed that 50% of their patients’ foot ulcers were caused by poor footwear.

Our recommendation 

Discuss any footwear concerns you are having with your podiatrist as they may be able to help you avoid a pressure injury through various pressure relief treatments e.g. reducing calluses and corns, providing footwear education and suggestions, and if required in-shoe padding or orthotic therapy.

Do you need to see a podiatrist if you have diabetes?

Even if you believe you are at low risk of developing a diabetes-related foot complication, you should still see a professional at least twice-yearly for a diabetes assessment. A podiatrist is qualified to assess your feet and to provide education, advice, and foot care treatments to help reduce your risk for a diabetes-related foot complication.


Fact: Many people can go from low to high risk status very quickly and without symptoms. In some cases, you may need to be referred on to a specialist or a high risk foot team for management.

Our recommendation

For people at low risk it is recommended you have an annual foot assessment. For people with medium-high risk, your assessment is recommended at least every 3- 6months.

Contact Mater Health and Wellness if you require assistance with assessing and caring for your feet. 

You can also consult your GP as you might be eligible for a bulk-billed Medicare Chronic Disease Management Plan referral for podiatry services at Mater Health and Wellness.

We offer a private podiatry service and also accept DVA referrals and private health rebates.

References

Diabetic Foot Australia, Wound Management Innovation CRC, Caring for your feet, Available at https://www.diabeticfootaustralia.org/


Diabetes Queensland 2012, Diabetes and your feet, Available at https://www.diabetesqld.org.au/media/75273/09feet_2012.pdf


National Evidence-Based Guideline  for the Prevention identification and management of foot complications in Diabetes 2011, Available at http://t2dgr.bakeridi.edu.au/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=anrL23t3ADw%3d&tabid=172
 

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