If you have recently been diagnosed with diabetes and you need Diabetic Foot Care Treatment, chances are you feel a bit overwhelmed as you get your head around what the diagnosis means. While currently there is not any definitive cure for diabetes it can be well managed, especially with early intervention.
It is well known within the medical profession that people with diabetes are at higher risk of complications with their feet including diabetic foot pain, diabetic nerve pain, peripheral vascular disease and neuropathy, calluses and ulcers. These conditions occur due to circulation damage and nerve damage associated with diabetes.
Symptoms related to these conditions commonly first appear in the feet, so doctors and podiatrists like to keep a close eye on your feet. In Australia, the Australian Government provides up to 5 free visits a year to allied health professionals for people diagnosed with a chronic health condition that has been present for 6 months or is expected to last more than 6 months. In the case of diabetes, these visits are typically used by a podiatrist. Some podiatrists will charge a gap between the government rebate and their fee so you should check with your podiatrist how much the gap will be if any. You can ask your doctor to do a health care plan for you, which will include a referral to your choice of a podiatrist.
Firstly, let’s look at the diagnosis of diabetes. Typically, diabetes is diagnosed by a doctor through blood tests when patients present complaining of symptoms or as an incidental finding. However, sometimes patients come to see a podiatrist complaining of foot pain, sore feet or even loss of sensation in their feet, thinking that the problem might be related to injury or mechanics. A podiatrist will immediately be suspicious of diabetes when presented with symptoms and will arrange for blood testing to confirm their suspicions.
Secondly, in relation to treatment, podiatrists have a key role to play in diabetic foot care and can help in a number of ways. These include:
Diabetes education – preventative care for diabetic complications
Monitoring blood circulation and nerve supply
Providing diabetic foot care treatment for corns, callus and toenails
Footwear advise for diabetic feet
Self-care techniques for diabetic foot care and treatment.
Full Neurological and Vascular Assessment of your feet
People with diabetes often develop a loss of sensation in their feet due to peripheral nerve damage. This means you can easily injure your feet and get infections without even realising you have a problem, often exacerbated by peripheral vascular disease. Circulation damage prevents your foot’s ability to heal – particularly problematic in the case of ulcers that occur on high-pressure points such as the ball of your foot, heel or toes.
As part of a diabetic foot care treatment plan, it is important to do a full vascular and neurological assessment every 12 months at the bare minimum – more frequently is better. Vascular assessments to assess peripheral vascular disease are done by the use of doppler ultrasound and neurological assessments are done by a touch assessment to check for sensation and peripheral neuropathy. Your podiatrist may also ask you if you regularly experience pins and needles, burning pain or numbness in your feet.
Well all this sounds a little daunting, the good news is the progression of diabetes can be slowed considerably with healthy eating and exercise choices. As part of your health care plan, your doctor may also refer you to a dietitian to get some advice around low GI (Glycemic Index) food choices and ways to control your blood sugar levels. Medication from your doctor can also help control your glucose levels. The earlier the diagnosis, the more effective these management strategies can be.
Suncoast Podiatry has foot and nail clinics right across the Sunshine Coast in Australia and is a specialist in diabetic foot care and assessment. If you live on the Sunshine Coast and have recently been diagnosed with diabetes, please make an appointment at any of our Sunshine Coast clinics so we can help you manage your condition and provide you with diabetic foot care.
Alternatively, if you have been experiencing pins and needles, burning or foot pain and you suspect something is not quite right, please come and visit one of our clinics on the Sunshine Coast so we can check everything out for you.
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