Diabetes is certainly on the increase. Type 2 diabetes and its link to obesity is in particular increasing, but what does this have to do with feet? Well, you might be surprised to know that according to NHS England, diabetics with foot ulceration creates an 80% chance of foot amputation, and has a five year mortality, and by that I mean death! of 50%. That means that the mortality rate is similar, or, in some circumstances worse than cancer! That is a very worrying statistic and you should be worried. As a member of the foot protection team in Doncaster and Bassetlaw hospitals, I have first hand experience of helping diabetics. The only problem with this situation is that the condition has usually deteriorated significantly by the time I see a patient. Education and prevention is far better than cure! In fact, if you are diabetic, you should be treating your feet like little princesses with the upmost protection they deserve.
The problem is that over time you can loose feeling in the feet and the blood supply can diminish to such an extent that the toes can literally go black and drop off. That’s not good at all! One patient literally found a toe in their sock.
The key is to take steps (excuse the pun) to prevent problems. Firstly take control of your glucose management. This will help to prevent some of the foot complications, but the sooner you do this the better. Exercise and watch your diet to lose weight. In some cases, this can reverse early diabetes. Stop smoking, yes, I know you’ve heard it all before, but this without a doubt this will save your circulation!
Top tips for better foot health
1. Inspect your feet daily-Do not rely on feel as this may be diminished.
2. Seek attention to any blister or abrasion soon-these can turn into ulcers very quickly
3. Moisturise daily- use ointment like Hydromol. This softens the skin and provides a barrier to infection.
4. Avoid tight shoes or shoes with prominent stitching around the toes- Any area for abrasion may not be felt and can cause damage.
5. Check inside the shoes-remember the sock story above!
6. Do not check bath water with your feet or walk barefoot on hot surfaces- you will burn!
7. Don’t walk bare foot-if you stand on something you might not feel it.
8. Get your feet checked regularly-at least once per year.
So I hope that helps and I hope I never see you in the foot protection clinic, but if you need us – call!