Diabetic Foot Assessment
If you have diabetes, having a regular diabetic foot assessment is an important part of looking after yourself. That’s because diabetes can affect many parts of the body, including the feet. People with diabetes are more prone to developing serious foot issues such as ulcers and infections. If left untreated, these can lead to amputation. At our clinic, our experienced podiatrists can conduct diabetic foot assessments to check your feet and treat any problems before they become too serious.
Find out how diabetes can affect your feet, and why an assessment is so important.
What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a serious, chronic condition when there is too much glucose (a type of sugar) in the blood. Glucose levels are usually regulated by the hormone, insulin which is created in the pancreas. People with diabetes either don’t produce insulin or don’t produce enough of it, which results in high blood sugar levels. This can cause long-term and short-term health complications.
How does diabetes affect the feet?
The two main foot problems associated with diabetes are neuropathy and peripheral vascular disease.
Diabetes can cause nerve damage (neuropathy). Nerve damage can affect any part of the body, but the nerves in the feet and legs are most often affected.
Nerve damage can cause loss of feeling in your feet. This is particularly serious because pain is the body’s way to signal that something is wrong. Losing feeling in your feet means that you may not notice a cut, blister, sore or other foot problem until it becomes serious. This can lead to complications such as infections, ulcers and even gangrene, which may lead to amputation.
Peripheral vascular disease
Diabetes can also affect the blood vessels in the body. In peripheral vascular disease, fatty deposits block blood vessels outside of the brain and heart. Those most affected are the ones leading to and from the extremities such as hands and feet. Reduced blood flow to the feet can lead to slow-healing wounds and infection which also increase the risk of gangrene and amputation.
Why do I need a diabetic foot assessment?
Having diabetes means that you have to take extra care of your feet. Having a diabetic foot assessment with a podiatrist can identify any potential issues before they become serious. Your podiatrist can determine your risk for foot complications associated with diabetes and put a personalised plan in place to keep your feet as healthy as possible and reduce the risk of serious complications.
What’s involved in a diabetic foot assessment?
During a diabetic foot assessment, your podiatrist will do several things. These include:
Based on your assessment our podiatrists will be able to determine your risk for diabetes-related foot complications and develop an appropriate management plan for you. Depending on your level of risk, your plan may include:
If any issues need treating (e.g. dryness, cracked heels, blisters, lesions, wounds, ulcers or evidence of fungal infections) our podiatrists will be able to administer appropriate treatment for you.
Frequently asked questions
No. You don’t have to do anything special before your appointment. However, it’s recommended you bring a list of current medications you’re taking, as well as details on any other health conditions you may have.
People who are at low risk of complications should have a diabetic foot assessment at least once a year. However, if your risk is moderate to high, you may require closer monitoring. This will be discussed with you at your appointment
If you notice any problems with your feet you should make an appointment to come and see us. The earlier we can begin treatment and management, the better the outcomes, and the less risk of serious complications. However, if you notice any of the following symptoms, you should seek medical care within 7 days:
- broken skin between toes
- changes to your foot shape
- cracked skin
- changes to your nail colour.
If you notice any of the following, you should seek medical care on the same day:
- unusual swelling
- ingrown nail
- bruising or cuts.
There is a lot you can do to look after your feet. The most important is to check your feet every day for changes or problems. You should also:
In order to manage your diabetes, it’s important to have the right healthcare team around you. Our friendly, highly-experienced podiatrists ready to help you with all your foot health needs.
Better Health Channel, Diabetic neuropathy, https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/diabetic-neuropathy
Diabetes Australia, What is diabetes? https://www.diabetesaustralia.com.au/about-diabetes/what-is-diabetes/
Diabetes Australia, Foot care, https://www.diabetesaustralia.com.au/living-with-diabetes/preventing-complications/foot-care/
Diabetes Feet Australia, For health professionals, https://www.diabetesfeetaustralia.org/for-health-professionals/
Diabetic Foot Australia, Australian and International Guidelines on Diabetic Foot Disease, https://diabeticfootaustralia.org/wp-content/uploads/DFA-Guides-you-through-guidelines.pdf
Medical Journal of Australia, Australian Diabetes Foot Network: a Management of Diabetes-related Foot Ulceration – a clinical update, https://www.mja.com.au/journal/2012/197/4/australian-diabetes-foot-network-management-diabetes-related-foot-ulceration
MedlinePlus, Diabetic Foot Exam, https://medlineplus.gov/lab-tests/diabetic-foot-exam/
Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, Foot assessment in patients with diabetes, https://www.racgp.org.au/afpbackissues/2006/200606/20060605ogrin.pdf