High blood glucose levels over a long period of time in diabetes can cause damage to the nerve and blood supply to your feet. There are often early signs of damage, which can be picked up if you know what to look for.
Nerve damage is also sometimes called neuropathy. When it affects your feet it can mean that you start to lose sensation in your feet and are therefore less able to feel pain, temperature and vibrations. Damage to motor nerves can also occur which can affect the muscles in your feet causing toe joints and bones to change shape. In addition, dry and cracked skin may also become a big problem as damage to autonomic nerves can reduce the amount of sweat that your feet produce.
The Blood supply (circulation) to your feet and legs can also be affected by high blood glucose levels causing damage to blood vessels. This may mean that less blood gets to your skin, muscles and tissues causing delays in healing and meaning you might be more prone to infections.
How can I care for my feet properly?
It is important that your skin is kept clean and in good condition. We recommend that you develop a daily routine of checking, washing, drying and moisturising your feet. Also, if you are aware of how your feet look normally, then any slight changes can be picked up early. Damage to the nerve and blood supply to your feet can happen very gradually, so check your feet regularly and seek help from a Podiatrist immediately if you see any the following signs:
Tingling or pins and needles Thickened toenails Hard, dry or cracked skin
Hair loss on legs or feet Numbness Shiny smooth skin
Pain Cramp in your calve Feet looking red or feeling hot
Changes in the shape of your feet Losing sense of position of your feet Wounds or sores
Should I cut my own nails?
A professional cutting service is generally recommended for people with diabetes as minor abrasions can easily become a portal for infection. Our Podiatry Assistants can offer a regular file, cut and can reduce nail depth. They can also remove hard skin using a burr or file. A relaxing foot massage to finish will leave your feet feeling wonderful!
Obviously, if you experience any problems with your feet or spot any of the danger signs listed above then it is vital to make an appointment with a Podiatrist to have an early assessment.
At Randell’s we will also offer you an Annual Diabetic Review where our Podiatrists will provide a more thorough check up which will include:
Assessment of changes to nerve or blood supply to the feet
Checking sensation loss using a monofilament and tuning fork
Checking blood supply to the feet using ultrasound
Professional cut and file
Specialised foot care advice. This includes information on footwear and assessment of any areas of pressure.
Prompt referral to specialised clinics where necessary
This can all sound a bit daunting, but if caring for your feet becomes part of your daily routine, then it can seriously reduce your risks of developing foot problems related to your diabetes. It’s just becoming aware of the small changes which might indicate that damage might be starting. Remember, we are here to help and are happy to give care and advice where needed.