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Diabetes

Diabetic Ulcer

Diabetes is a heath condition which is becoming more prevalent in western countries. Diabetes is a complex metabolic disorder which is categorised  by a person having high levels of glucose in their blood . In a normal healthy person glucose (sugar) from food is converted into energy which can then be used. A hormone called Insulin is essential in this process of converting glucose into energy.A person with diabetes has high blood glucose levels because the body produces an insufficient amount of insulin, the  cells of the body do not respond to the insulin (resistance) or a combination of both. Elevated blood glucose levels is called hyperglycaemia.

Diabetes is a chronic condition which can be managed, but not cured.

Health Issues with Diabetes

If it is not well managed, Diabetes can cause serious complications throughout the body. The feet in particular  are often affected. Complications associated with diabetes can cause serious secondary health issues, may be debilitating and long term life shortening. Many problems arise as diabetes can cause pathological changes in the vascular and neurological systems. Many of the health problems associated with diabetes can be prevented or delayed by having good control over blood glucose levels.

Diabetes and Your Feet

Besides being affected themselves, the feet also act as a warning sign of possible problems in other parts of the body. The feet are at risk with diabetes because poor diabetic blood glucose control may result in vascular and neurological problems. These changes often first manifest in the feet. It is essential that if you have diabetes that firstly you look after your feet and secondly that you have your feet thoroughly checked by a qualified podiatrist.

Feet at Risk

Vascular and neurological damage to the feet is more likely to occur if ….

  • you have had diabetes for a long period of time (years)
  • you have not maintained your blood glucose levels well (high/erratic)
  • you are over weight or obese
  • you are not physically active
  • you smoke

Neurological (nerve) Changes

Poor diabetic blood glucose control can result in nerve damage to the feet. A diabetic person may be unaware that damage to the nerves of the feet has commenced, so it is important to have them checked by a podiatrist. Symptoms of nerve damage in the feet are …

  • numbness
  • tingling, pins and needles
  • a burning sensation in the feet and legs
  • the feet may feel cold

With reduced sensation comes the risk that you may injury  your foot and be aware that the  damage has occurred. A callous or simple blister from footwear may not be felt. In severe cases this can lead to ulceration, gangrene and amputation. Long term severe nerve damage can also lead to bones and joints becoming deformed, as there is no sensory feedback.

Vascular Changes

Diabetes can influence the blood flow to the feet. Long term poor glucose control may result in changes to the blood vessels ( especially at the capillary level) which can have a detrimental affect on the feet. Decreased blood supply means decreased nutrition for all tissues. Healing can be delayed and  the risk of infection increased.
Diabetic Assessment

At  Rockingham Podiatry we see many patients who are classified as having diabetes. Doctors refer patients to have the vascular and neurological state of their feet assessed, although a referral is not required to have your feet checked. We also manage any general problems with the feet,  as diabetic patients are at more risk of infection and may have delayed healing.

If you are looking for a podiatrist in Rockingham to discuss diabetes, have your feet assessed and any problems treated, then please call on 9592 1068 to make an appointment.