All You Should Know About Diabetic Foot Care
Throughout our developed world, the UK included, personal health and wellbeing has a greater focus upon it than ever before. We are better informed and more aware than we have ever been, as a result, personal health issues have taken on a far greater importance and we are more inclined to live healthier lifestyles as a result.
Our increased awareness has largely come about via modern media, we are bombarded with lifestyle guides, dietary advice, exercise routines.
But we have been influenced enough to alter our lifestyles to be kinder to our wellbeing. We have reduced the stress and risk factors of day to day life. We are more inclined to work towards a healthier environment, to the benefit of ourselves and future generations, and we give more credence to what our bodies are telling us. For most people there is now an ever-greater desire to feel good and look good.
The internet is now our principal source of information, unfortunately useful information is all too often clouded by glamorous influencing. Within the world of health and glamour, be it in magazines or cyberspace, feet are not seen as trendy, or in any way attractive, and they don’t sell! Feet are not seen on the front cover of Vogue, and celebrity influencers certainly don’t flaunt their feet across the internet.
Let’s Not Forget Our Feet
Our feet are one of the hardest working parts of our bodies and very vulnerable to damage and disease. Although we are now under more pressure than ever to look good and to be aware of our health, our feet remain one of the most neglected parts of our body.
For most of our waking lives our feet are covered, and we pay them little heed, out of sight, out of mind. That is until they start to hurt. Only then do we start to realize how much we have been taking them for granted. Even the smallest ailment can affect our day to day life through restricted mobility, pain and misery. Furthermore, if a problem is neglected, a simple condition can become excessively debilitating.
No matter how astute a person may be and how aware they are of their health and well-being, some people will be more susceptible to health problems than others. It may even be the case that, an otherwise healthy individual, falls victim to a health problem which contradicts their healthy lifestyle. One such example of this is diabetes. Diabetes can be brought on by lifestyle or it can be inherent, and there is now a school of thought that the disease can be brought about by contraction of otherwise unrelated viruses.
Diabetes, the Unfortunate Reality
Diabetics are classified as having either type 1 diabetes, where the body is unable to produce insulin, or, more commonly, type 2 diabetes, where the body either doesn’t produce insulin or fails to utilize it fully. Insulin is a hormone produced by the body to facilitate the transfer of glucose to the blood cells. When there is a failure in this process the possible negative results are many and varied. Diabetes can affect the eyes, kidneys, the nervous system, can cause heart disease and strokes. It is also a common cause of amputations.
There is now an estimated 3.5 million diabetics in the UK, with both men and women being susceptible, although the numbers are higher in men. There are also thought to be around 550,000 undiagnosed sufferers. Women that are pregnant can also contract gestational diabetes, around 5% of expectant mothers contract this form of diabetes which usually corrects itself post-natal.
Diabetics, to varying degrees, have health issues which require careful monitoring and management. Among the most common problems diabetics have sufferance with are health issues with their feet. There are two prominent conditions to which diabetics are susceptible to and which increase their foot health risks, they are peripheral artery disease (PAD) and peripheral neuropathy.
Diabetics are often less aware of the onset of a problem with their feet due to a lowered sensory level, this is caused by nerve damage and a reduced level of oxygen being delivered to the feet due to vascular damage. As a result of the lack of awareness, and a diabetic’s degraded ability to heal, an issue which might otherwise be easily treated, can become far more serious.
Diabetes and Feet, Let’s be Aware
Athlete’s foot (Tinea Pedis) is probably the most common foot complaint in the UK. Being an infectious disease, athlete’s foot will thrive in places where people are likely to be barefoot. Public swimming pools and gym changing rooms are breeding grounds for bacteria, as is your back garden in the summer, where people might gather for a barbeque and go barefoot. Diabetics need to be aware of these high-risk situations.
Yes, diabetics really do need to be aware. Daily inspection of the feet is a vital preventative action in maintaining foot health. They should be vigilant in identifying the onset of future problems. Attention should be given to any red spots or swelling, cuts sores, and fluid filled blisters. Any of these could be the early signals of a problem, such as plantar warts, corns and calluses.
If these signals are ignored, a diabetic is vulnerable to the foot becoming ulcerated. The problems with ulceration is compounded many-fold due to diabetes. With the poor blood flow experienced by diabetics, gangrene is a very real threat. Restricted blood flow makes infection more likely and the death of body tissue which causes gangrene can, in extreme cases, result in amputation. Statistically, diabetes is the biggest non-trauma cause of amputations in the UK.
Less common, but with higher risk levels for diabetics, are more severe problems which can result in deformities, such as Charcot’s Foot. Diabetes can cause nerve damage which can greatly affect the feet. Any redness or warmth of the skin should be taken seriously as it can lead to swelling. This swelling can lead to the foot and toe bones shifting, breaking and becoming misshaped.
In extreme cases this can lead to deformities of the foot, one common deformity is Rocker Bottom. Often this is mistakenly thought of as solely genetic caused by a trisomy mutation of the gene HOXD10. However, Rocker Bottom deformities are a common result of nerve damage which has led to Charcot’s Foot.
Let’s Not Forget the Obvious
Due to their health vulnerabilities, diabetics need to be vigilant towards the health of their feet. Basic preventative routines are essential. Thorough cleaning is a must, which is also the ideal opportunity for a daily inspection and assessment of the foot’s condition. Should there be any pre-ulcerative signs, or any other anomalies, professional advice should be sort.
Proper footwear is important for everyone, for diabetics, the choice of correct footwear should be given even more credence. On a daily basis, podiatrists deal with conditions caused by footwear. These problems are not only due to poorly fitting or excessively worn footwear, fashion styles have also played a part in damaging peoples feet. Diabetics should be made aware of this and choose their footwear carefully.
Get Checked and Treated by a Professional
Diabetics should never delay in seeking professional help as soon as they become aware of any potential problem. There are many podiatric practitioners who are extremely professional and capable of administering expert treatment for the many conditions that diabetics find themselves victim of.
But, professionals also have an obligation to educate diabetics and make them aware of their vulnerabilities. Early identification of potential problems is vital, it enables a podiatrist to administer the appropriate and effective treatment early, thus maximizing the chances of a complete recovery.
Rebekah Henning is one professional practitioner that believes in educating the vulnerable, high risk groups. With every consultation she will advise on an individual basis with the view of prevention being better than cure. Rebekah pays great heed to the additional risks that diabetics face and is committed to ensuring that her patients are equipped with the knowledge they require to help reduce their risk of sufferance.
As well as being self-aware, diabetics should undertake periodical professional assessment of their foot health from their local professional practitioner. This also offers them direct access to the knowledge which can help to allay any worries or queries they may have. Simply by having access to professional advice can have a positive effect on a person’s overall well-being.
Whether or not a diabetic requires treatment, they should be sure to have themselves registered with a professional foot care specialist, one that is local to them and easily accessible. The UK is fortunate to have a large number of professional private clinics throughout its realm. Many of these clinics have extensive catchment areas with excellent transport links. One such establishment is Feet@theclinic, Loughborough, Leicestershire. This particular clinic not only offers excellent treatment, but, believes that its treatment begins with prevention through knowledge and advice.