What does a podiatrist do in diabetes? Diabetic Foot Care

Blog 18 – Diabetic Podiatrists Foot Care “What does a podiatrist do in diabetes?”

What does a podiatrist do with the diabetic foot? Read on for Diabetic Foot Care advice

You may find it surprising to know that nearly every five minutes, a new case of diabetes is identified in a member of the Australian population – that’s just for Australia.  

Of those people that develop diabetes, at least 15% of them, at some point in their lives, will miss the signs and develop a foot ulcer, and 6 percent of those people will end up in the hospital as a result of complications or infections related to their diabetes.  This is a very alarming trend and even more concerning is the fact these figures are growing each year.  A well-educated and trained podiatrist can help in many ways.

Unfortunately, many of individuals with diabetes who require hospital attention will have a condition that will deteriorate to the point where they will require surgical amputation of a toe, foot, or perhaps a limb.  

Hopefully you can now see why those who have diabetes are at a much greater risk of developing foot health issues; hence, it is of the utmost importance for diabetics to take care of their feet and undergo routine foot exams with a podiatrist who is well-trained and highly experienced in dealing with people with diabetes.  We also recommend they check their feet daily – just spending a minute scanning your feet every day can pay huge dividends.  Typically, a well-managed diabetes should not result in a visit to the hospital if the right care plan is in place with a podiatrist.

Diabetes assessment rosanna ivanhoe podiatry

What kinds of foot care problems are associated with people who have diabetes?

People who have diabetes are at risk for a variety of potentially very serious foot disorders if they miss the signs are are left unchecked, and podiatrists are not involved in their care:

  • Ulcers: A wound that can arise on the feet or toes, an ulcer is a type of foot injury. When this happens, the tissue that normally covers a portion of the foot or toe perishes and is unable to heal, resulting in an open wound known as ulcers.  Ulcers have the potential to worsen and are prone to serious infection.  The treatments are complex and costly, and if they are not administered correctly, the patient’s damaged limb may have to be amputated due to untreated ulcers.  Even poorly fitting shoes and bad socks can end up in resulting in an ulcer for someone with diabetes.
  • Blood flow issues: People with diabetes typically experienced a decrease in the amount of blood that flows to the feet implies that any wounds or other issues will take longer to recover from.
  • Charcot Foot: This condition occurs in people with diabetes when nerve damage in the feet leads to a weakening of the bones of the foot. When these bones become brittle, they are more likely to break, which can lead to abnormalities in the foot.
  • Nerve damage: this results in discomfort and tingling or numbness in the feet. Reduced nerve sensitivity makes it more likely that a minor injury, such as a cut or blister, may go unnoticed.  Over time, this can lead to more significant issues, including the loss of feeling in the feet and toes.

It is not difficult to comprehend the rationale behind why it is of the utmost significance for diabetics to pay close and consistent attention to the care of their feet with the assistance from a trained podiatrist.  As someone with diabetes, you may not notice if you have any cuts, sores, or other issues since your nerve sensitivity has lessened – but podiatrists will.  Also, because your blood flow has dropped as a result of your diabetes, your body’s ability to repair itself is also affected.

What kind of treatment might diabetic patients receive from podiatrists?

Podiatrists can and should be  an essential member of any health care team that treats diabetic patients.  Our team at Bellevue Podiatry has received specialised training in diabetes foot care and is able to evaluate nerve damage, identify specific diabetic foot health dangers, and assist in the development of a care and prevention strategy for diabetes-related foot issues.  

Those who have diabetes of either type 1 or type 2 should have their feet examined at least once every six months by podiatrists, as this will ensure that any possible conditions are discovered at an early stage.

What process does a Podiatrist follow when doing a diabetes foot health assessment?

The podiatrists will check the circulation to the feet of a diabetic patient by taking their pulse in two different locations: on the top of the foot and on the inside of the ankle as part of their foot assessment.

Establishing a toe pressure for someone with diabetes is another method for determining how much blood is reaching the tips of your feet.  This podiatrist method is analogous to determining the blood pressure in your arm, but instead determines how much blood is reaching your toes. This is a very essential test to determine how well the body can mend itself after it has been injured.

In addition to this, the podiatrists will examine the degree to which the nerve endings in the foot are sensitive.

In order to accomplish this, we first have the patient close their eyes, and then the podiatrist will question them about the various feelings they are experiencing.  If there is any cause for worry regarding decreased blood flow or nerve injury, a primary care physician will be alerted, and additional ultrasounds will be required for further investigation.

There are over 4000 diabetic-related amputations performed annually in Australia, with the vast majority of these being performed on the toes or feet.  The harsh reality is that early intervention has the potential to prevent 80% of these amputations from occurring.  

Throughout the northeast Melbourne metro area, the team at Bellevue Podiatry have the education and experience to assess and protect diabetic feet from unnecessary complications that could have been avoided with early intervention.  

If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, have a possible wound infection, loss of nerve sensitivity or are just interested in getting a foot health assessment please call us on (03) 9457 2336 or book online so we can get you peace of mind and start working with you to protect your feet long term.

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