Diabetes mellitus is a condition in which the pancreas no longer produces enough insulin, or the cells stop responding to the insulin that is produced. This results in increased levels of glucose in the blood that cannot be absorbed into the cells of the body.
The two types of diabetes are referred to as Type 1 (insulin dependent) and Type 2 (non-insulin dependent), although people with Type 2 diabetes may eventually need to go on insulin therapy.
Diabetes increases your risk of foot complications, which is why it is recommended to have a diabetes foot assessment preformed by a podiatrist and ongoing podiatry care if necessary.
Long Term Lower Limb Complications of Diabetes:
- Loss of protective sensation
- Decreased blood supply to the feet
- Increased risk of infection
- Diabetic foot ulcers, amputations and gangrene.
A diabetes foot assessment preformed by a podiatrist every 3 to 12 months is advisable, depending on your risk category, which the podiatrist will determine. Once your risk level is determined for diabetes related foot complications, it is important to follow the guidelines for recommended diabetes foot check timeframes (see left hand diagram).
Neurovascular Diabetes Foot Assessment Includes:
The podiatrist will assess your protective sensation and balance using a 10g monofilament and vibration tuning fork. Sensation in your feet is important as it is responsible for:
- Blood flow/ sweating regulation
- Muscle strength/control
They will let you know if you have any neuropathy (nerve damage) and where this loss of sensation has occurred. Loss of sensation will increase your risk category, and require more regular diabetes foot assessments.
At The Podiatry Clinic we will check your circulation and give you preventative education and treatment strategies to manage poor circulation, which is responsible for:
- Delayed healing
- Cold feet, cyanosed (blue)
- Muscle cramping/pain when walking or at rest
- Poor skin/nail conditions
- Reduction in hair growth
Reduced circulation also increases your risk category and more frequent diabetes foot assessments will need to be undertaken by the podiatrist. The combination of numb, insensitive feet (neuropathy) and poor circulation means cuts or injuries may go unnoticed and progress to infected ulcers which may heal poorly.
The podiatrist at The Podiatry Clinic will educate you in respect to monitoring for infection, giving you extensive education on diabetes and foot related risks. They will provide you with advice on daily diabetic foot care and preventative strategies for diabetic foot complications.