Diabetes & The Feet: What You Need To Know

The human body is a phenomenal piece of natural engineering. However, because the human body is such a complex piece of biological equipment, it’s not uncommon for diseases and certain medical conditions to affect parts of our body which at first glance seem completely unrelated.

In the case of diabetes, for example, it’s widely accepted that diabetes itself can lead to significant problems with not just our metabolism but our feet also. This is because diabetes causes reduced blood flow to our extremities which in turn can lead to degradation of the nerves in our feet. This degradation is referred to as sensory diabetic neuropathy and is estimated to affect 10% of all diabetics at some point.

Sensory Diabetic Neuropathy Symptoms

Sufferers of sensory diabetic neuropathy most commonly experience a lack of sensation in their feet. This is a cause for concern due to the fact that reduced sensitivity often leads to injuries. Moreover, because these injuries go unnoticed, they can quickly develop into serious ulcers and infections.

In the very worst case, diabetic neuropathy can lead to a ‘foot attack.’ This is where a serious infection takes hold and can in the very worst case lead to lower limbs needing to be amputated.

How To Prevent Serious Foot & Lower Leg Problems

The good news is that the majority of amputations are completely avoidable. The key is for diabetic patients to practice better day to day foot care and seek medical attention at the first sign of swelling, reddening or any kind of foot injury.

In the UK, the NHS recommends that sufferers of diabetic neuropathy have annual foot health checks. However, patients exercising their own due diligence day to day is just as important. In this case, small things like setting an alarm or placing a reminding sign somewhere in your home is a great way to get into the habit of regularly checking your own feet.

Of course, some patients will have trouble checking their own feet. In this case, it’s important to have a carer or family member do this for you and should problems arise, to seek medical attention as soon as possible.