Diabetes is a condition where your body has a problem producing or using insulin effectively which can cause blood sugar levels to be too high. This can result in a number of complications around the body especially if the foot and lower limb.
High blood glucose levels can cause damage to different areas of your body and this includes your feet and legs. High blood glucose levels can damage your blood vessels which can affect the blood supply (circulation) to your feet and legs and may mean that less blood gets to your skin, muscles and tissues. High blood glucose levels can also cause damage to the nerve systems in your body, which stops important messages getting to and from your brain.
The nerves in your body that are most likely to be affected are the longest ones – the nerves that lead to your extremities (feet and legs).
Damage to sensory nerves:
Inability to feel pain, extremes of temperature and vibration
Damage to motor nerves:
Affects muscles in your feet causing toe joints and bones to change shape
Damage to autonomic nerves:
reduces the amount of sweat that your feet produce, which will make your skin very dry and increase risk of callus, corns and pressure ulcers
Some sensations you may feel if nerves are damaged:
> tingling or pins and needles
> sweating less
> feet may look red and feel hot to the touch
> changes in the shape of your feet
> hard skin
> losing sense of the position of your feet and legs
Some sensations you may feel if blood supply is affected:
> cramp in your calves
> smooth skin Losing hair on your feet and legs
> thickened toenails
> cold, pale feet
> change in the colour of the skin on your feet
> wounds or sores legs
> pain in your feet
Preventing foot complications:
Preventing foot problems in the future is about being positive and active now, rather than acting only when there is a problem. Preventing problems starts with managing your diabetes well, leading a healthy lifestyle and keeping your blood glucose levels well controlled. By doing this you can prevent or slow down any changes to the nerves and blood vessels that supply your feet and legs. It is advisable that you have a diabetic foot assessment at annually with the NHS. At David Brown Podiatry we conduct diabetic foot assessments and can tailor them to fit around your NHS appointments meaning you can have your feet assessed twice a year as changes in the foot can happen quickly.
Washing and moisturising your feet every day will keep the skin supple and healthy, checking them daily will help you to spot any injury or skin damage quickly. Preventing the build-up of hard skin and protecting your feet from injury will keep your feet healthy. Make sure your footwear is suitable and clean and never walk around bare foot.
If you have diabetes, it’s important to try to stop smoking. Smoking impairs the blood circulation which can lead to increased healing time form any cuts or sores.
As podiatrists we don’t treat the condition of diabetes but we play an important role in treating the effects of diabetes and aim to prevent you getting any complications in the lower limb.
Don’t ignore any problems with your feet!
Its far harder to fix a problem after its occurred than to prevent it before it happens!
If in doubt get in touch with us or contact your GP!