Steps to healthy feet
Angela Bayley, a diabetes specialist podiatrist, explains the importance of regular foot checks.
Diabetes increases your chance of developing ongoing foot problems. Not everyone with the condition is at risk, but the chances of foot complications may increase the longer you have diabetes.
Managing your diabetes is the best method of taking care of your feet and will help avoid complications.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD I GET MY FEET CHECKED?
If you have type 2 diabetes you need to have an annual foot check, usually performed by your doctor. If there are any problems, you will be referred to a primary care podiatrist. Referrals can be made by general practitioners, practice nurses, diabetes nurse educators and other health professionals. A person identified as having high-risk feet is referred to hospital care.
The New Zealand Management of Diabetes Guidelines recommend that people with type 1 diabetes have their feet checked at least once a year, starting five years from diagnosis. However, contact your health professional straight away if you any detect any problems when checking your feet.
HOW WILL A PODIATRIST HELP ME?
Podiatry is a branch of medicine that is part of the multi-disciplinary team needed to treat diabetes.
A good podiatrist will:
• Take your full medical history.
• Make sure he or she is aware of your medication.
• Spend the first part of every consultation assessing the pulses in your feet, your circulation and
any nerve damage.
• Check there are no areas of undue pressure to the soles of your feet or trauma from ill-fitting footwear.
• Advise you on the care of your skin and nails.
• Provide you with prevention strategies to avoid harming your feet.
HOW OFTEN DO I NEED TO VISIT A PODIATRIST?
This is usually a joint decision between you and your podiatrist, diabetes nurse educator and doctor, and depends on the level of risk. You should always be kept informed of all results of the assessment and have a good understanding as to why you do or don’t need to return.
If you have nerve damage or heart, kidney or eye problems, or have had a stroke, then you need to be seen much more frequently than someone who has no complications. Those with renal failure or at risk of renal failure need to have their feet checked every three months. People with existing circulatory problems or nerve damage also need regular foot inspections.
**This article first appeared in the Autumn 2019 issue of Diabetes Wellness magazine. Subscribe to Diabetes NZ today to receive your copy.
For more information about foot care click on the image to the right.