People with diabetes are at higher risk of developing foot problems, including ulcers, foot deformities, and in extreme cases, amputation. Peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage) is common among people with diabetes and may result in loss of feeling in their hands, to the extent that they’re not aware that damage has occurred. Nerve damage in the lower limbs is reported to affect around 13% of Australians with diabetes.
Diabetic patients should schedule regular check-ups with a podiatrist to prevent long term damage to their feet. Podiatrists can cut toe nails to prevent wounds becoming infected and to provide regular checks to ensure that existing wounds or ulcers are managed to prevent further damage and promote healing.
Orthopaedic surgeons, particularly foot and ankle specialists, typically deal with more complex diabetic complications such as Charcot Foot. This condition causes a weakening of the bones in the foot, resulting in the development of an abnormally shaped foot. In these cases, surgery may be required.
Research demonstrates that assessment and active monitoring, teaching and prompt intervention can reduce the number and the severity of lower limb amputations in diabetic patients. A quick visit to your GP and podiatrist can help to prevent serious foot damage.