The Importance of Diabetic Foot Care

The Importance of Diabetic Foot Care

Diabetic Foot Care

Diabetes, a condition affecting millions globally, poses a significant risk not only to overall health but also to the integrity of your feet. Diabetic foot care and health is a paramount concern, given its susceptibility to severe complications if neglected. At East Gosford Podiatry, we recognise the critical intersection between diabetes and podiatric health, dedicating our practice to the prevention, early detection, and effective management of diabetic foot conditions.

The relationship between diabetes and foot health is intricate and consequential. Reduced blood flow and nerve damage, common in diabetes, elevate the risk of infections, ulcers, and in severe cases, necessitate amputation. This reality underscores the importance of specialised foot care for those living with diabetes. Our Central Coast podiatrists approach transcends mere treatment and assessments; we are committed to educating our patients on the essential practices for maintaining foot health, thereby enhancing their quality of life and mitigating the risk of grave outcomes.

Our objective with our education on diabetic foot care is unmistakable: to underscore the critical importance of podiatric care in managing diabetes and to show how, with expert intervention and patient involvement, we can profoundly influence the health and quality of life for those with diabetes. Join us as we tackle the challenges of diabetic foot health and the benefits of proper podiatry care, equipped with the expertise and commitment of East Gosford Podiatry.


Understanding the Crucial Link Between Diabetes and Foot Health

Diabetes significantly impacts various bodily functions, and the feet are no exception. This condition can lead to two major problems that affect the feet: nerve damage (neuropathy) and reduced blood flow. Nerve damage causes a loss of feeling in the feet, making it hard to notice wounds or injuries. Reduced blood flow can slow the healing process of any cuts or injuries, increasing the risk of infection or ulcers.

These issues make diabetic foot care not just beneficial but essential for preventing severe complications. Infections can escalate quickly, leading to ulcers and, in the worst cases, necessitating amputation. This stark reality places a spotlight on the necessity of vigilant foot care and regular check-ups to catch problems before they escalate.

At East Gosford Podiatry, we are acutely aware of the risks diabetes poses to foot health. Our clinic is committed to a proactive approach, emphasising the early detection of potential foot problems. Through regular examinations, we can identify issues before they become severe, providing treatments that can prevent the progression to more serious conditions.

Our focus extends beyond treatment to include comprehensive patient education on the importance of foot care in diabetes management. We believe that informed patients are better equipped to make decisions that promote their overall health and well-being. By understanding the critical link between diabetes and foot health, individuals can take proactive steps to minimise their risk of complications.

This understanding forms the foundation of our practice at East Gosford Podiatry. By combining expert care with a strong emphasis on patient education, we strive to make a meaningful difference in the lives of those with diabetes. Our goal is to empower each patient with the knowledge and resources necessary to maintain healthy feet, thereby enhancing their quality of life and preventing the serious consequences that can arise from neglected foot care.

Choosing the Right Footwear

The selection of appropriate footwear is a key component in the prevention of diabetic foot complications. Shoes that fit well and offer proper support can significantly reduce the risk of foot injuries, which can escalate into serious issues for individuals with diabetes. Here are guidelines to ensure you choose the right footwear:

1. Opt for Non-Binding Shoes: Shoes should be snug but not tight, allowing your feet to move without restriction. Avoid shoes that pinch or bind, especially in the toe area, to prevent pressure sores and ulcers.

2. Seek Shoes with Adequate Support: Good arch support and a cushioned sole are important to distribute weight evenly and reduce pressure on any one part of the foot. This is crucial for preventing strain and injuries.

3. Look for Breathable Materials: Shoes made from leather, canvas, or other breathable materials help keep feet dry and reduce the risk of fungal infections. Avoid plastic or other non-breathable materials.

4. Choose Adjustable Shoes: Shoes with laces, buckles, or Velcro straps can be adjusted to accommodate changes in foot size or shape due to swelling. This adjustability ensures a consistently good fit.

5. Check for Smooth Linings: The inside of the shoe should be smooth and free of seams or rough edges that could rub against the skin and cause blisters or sores.

6. Room for Toes: Ensure there is enough room in the toe box so your toes can move freely. Cramped conditions can lead to issues such as bunions, hammertoes, and pressure ulcers.

7. Replace Worn Out Shoes: Regularly inspect your shoes for signs of wear and tear. Over time, shoes can lose their supportive qualities, increasing the risk of foot problems. Replacing shoes before they become too worn is essential.

8. Professional Fitting: Consider getting professionally fitted for shoes, especially if you have existing foot problems. A podiatrist can recommend specific types of shoes that will be best for your condition.

9. Specialised Diabetic Shoes: For those with significant foot deformities or circulation issues, specialised diabetic shoes may be necessary. These shoes are designed to reduce the risk of skin breakdown in patients with diabetes and neuropathy.

10. Test Inside the Shoe: Before purchasing, run your hand inside the shoe to check for any protruding seams or anything else that might irritate your feet. Always try on both shoes and walk around to ensure they are comfortable and fit well.

By carefully selecting shoes that offer comfort, support, and protection, individuals with diabetes can take an important step towards preventing foot injuries and complications. Regular consultations with a podiatrist can also provide personalised recommendations tailored to your specific foot health needs.

Check out our range of Archies Thongs.


Importance of Regular Foot Examinations for Diabetics

Regular foot examinations play a pivotal role in the early detection and management of potential foot problems for individuals with diabetes. These check-ups are critical for identifying issues before they become serious, allowing for timely intervention and treatment. Here’s why regular foot examinations are indispensable:

  • Early Detection of Foot Problems: Regular examinations can uncover common foot conditions at their onset, such as cuts, blisters, sores, infections, and changes in skin colour or temperature, which might go unnoticed due to neuropathy.
  • Prevention of Complications: By catching problems early, interventions can be applied to prevent complications that could lead to ulcers, infections, and even amputations.
  • Assessment of Circulation and Nerve Function: Foot examinations also include assessments of blood flow and nerve function in the feet. These evaluations can detect signs of worsening circulation or neuropathy, allowing for adjustments in care plans.
  • Customised Foot Care Recommendations: Based on the findings of a foot examination, healthcare providers can offer personalised advice on foot care practices, suitable footwear, and when to seek further medical attention.
  • Monitoring of Existing Foot Conditions: For those with existing foot conditions, regular check-ups help monitor the effectiveness of treatment plans and make necessary adjustments to ensure optimal foot health.
  • Education and Support: Regular interactions with healthcare providers give patients the opportunity to ask questions, learn more about managing their diabetes and foot health, and receive encouragement and support in their care efforts.

How Often Should Feet be Examined when Diabetic?

For individuals with diabetes, it’s recommended to have a professional foot examination at least once a year. However, those with a history of foot problems, changes in foot structure, or signs of circulation or nerve function issues may need more frequent check-ups. Additionally, daily self-examinations of the feet for cuts, sores, or changes are crucial and should become a part of one’s daily routine.

What Happens During a Diabetic Foot Examination?

A comprehensive diabetic foot examination typically includes:

  • Visual Inspection: Checking for skin changes, cuts, bruises, blisters, or infections.
    Sensation Test: Using a monofilament to test the sensitivity of the feet to touch, which can indicate nerve damage.
  • Circulation Check: Assessing the pulse in the feet to evaluate blood flow.
    Foot Structure Evaluation: Examining for deformities like bunions, hammertoes, or changes in foot shape that may require special footwear.
  • Skin and Nail Care Assessment: Looking for problems with toenails, such as fungal infections, and checking the skin for signs of dryness or calluses.

Regular foot examinations by our podiatrists, complemented by daily self-checks, are essential strategies in maintaining foot health for individuals with diabetes. These proactive measures help prevent serious complications and support overall well-being.

Tips for Healthy Feet

Maintaining healthy feet is a cornerstone of diabetes management. Here are some essential tips to help individuals with diabetes protect their feet and prevent complications:

  1. Daily Inspections: Make it a habit to check your feet every day for any signs of cuts, redness, swelling, sores, blisters, corns, calluses, or changes to the skin or nails. Using a mirror can help you see the bottom of your feet, or you can ask a family member to assist if necessary.
  2. Proper Washing and Drying: Wash your feet daily in warm (not hot) water, avoiding soaking, which can lead to skin breakdown. Dry your feet thoroughly, especially between the toes, to prevent fungal infections.
  3. Moisturise, But Not Between the Toes: Apply lotion to the tops and bottoms of your feet to keep the skin soft and prevent cracking. However, avoid lotion between the toes to reduce the risk of fungal infections.
  4. Wear Protective Footwear Always: Never go barefoot, even indoors, to avoid injuries. Ensure that your shoes and socks are comfortable and do not have pebbles or other objects inside them. The lining should be smooth to prevent any rubbing or blisters.
  5. Selecting the Right Shoes: Choose shoes that fit well and support your feet. It’s best to shop for new shoes later in the day when your feet are at their largest. Break in new shoes gradually to prevent blisters.
  6. Careful Toenail Trimming: Trim your toenails straight across and file the edges to prevent ingrown toenails. If you cannot see or reach your feet, have a podiatrist do this for you.
  7. Avoid Self-Treating Corns and Calluses: Do not attempt to remove corns or calluses on your own, especially with over-the-counter products, as they can burn your skin. Seek professional care for these conditions.
  8. Regular Foot Examinations: Have your feet checked during every healthcare visit and see a podiatrist at least once a year for a comprehensive exam. This is crucial for detecting issues early and managing your foot health proactively.
  9. Keep the Blood Flowing: Elevate your feet when sitting, wiggle your toes and move your ankles for a few minutes several times a day to improve blood flow.
  10. Engage in Foot-Friendly Activities: Choose activities that are easy on the feet like walking, biking, or swimming. Consult with your healthcare provider about the best exercises for you.
  11. Seek Professional Advice: Always ask your doctor or podiatrist about any concerns or new symptoms related to your feet. They can provide personalised advice and treatment options to keep your feet healthy.

By following these tips, individuals with diabetes can significantly reduce their risk of foot complications. Consistent foot care, combined with regular check-ups, plays a vital role in maintaining foot health and preventing serious issues down the line.

Advanced Diabetic Foot Care

Beyond the basics of daily care and prevention, there are advanced strategies in diabetic foot care that individuals can follow to further enhance foot health and quality of life for those with diabetes. These areas go into more specialised care strategies, offering additional layers of protection against foot complications.

  1. Foot Strengthening Exercises: Strengthening the muscles in the feet can improve balance, reduce the risk of falls, and enhance overall foot health. Exercises such as toe curls, ankle rolls, and resistance band work target the foot’s muscles and can be easily incorporated into daily routines. These exercises not only strengthen but also improve circulation in the feet.
  2. Nutrition for Healthy Feet: Nutrition plays a crucial role in managing diabetes and by extension, foot health. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can help control blood sugar levels, reduce inflammation, and support healthy circulation. Certain nutrients, like omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, and calcium, are particularly beneficial for foot health.
  3. Custom Orthotics and Their Benefits: Custom orthotics are specially designed shoe inserts that help distribute pressure evenly across the feet, providing support where it’s needed most. They can correct abnormal walking patterns, reduce pain, and prevent the development of foot ulcers. Orthotics are particularly beneficial for individuals with existing foot deformities or those who have experienced foot injuries.
  4. Seasonal Foot Care Tips: Foot care needs can change with the seasons, requiring adjustments to your routine. For example, summer may call for breathable footwear and sunscreen on the feet, while winter demands warm, protective shoes to prevent cold injury. This topic provides tailored advice for caring for diabetic feet throughout the year, ensuring they remain healthy regardless of the season.

Preventing Diabetic Foot Complications

Preventing complications in diabetic foot care is critical for maintaining overall health and avoiding severe outcomes, such as infections, ulcers, and amputation. Through a combination of professional care and self-management strategies, individuals with diabetes can significantly reduce their risk of developing foot-related complications. Here are key strategies for prevention:


  1. Control Blood Sugar Levels: Effective management of blood glucose levels is foundational in preventing the complications of diabetes, including those affecting the feet. High blood sugar can damage nerves and reduce blood flow to the feet, increasing the risk of wounds and infections.
  2. Wear Appropriate Footwear: Shoes that fit well and provide adequate support can prevent blisters, calluses, and ulcers by distributing pressure evenly across the feet. Custom orthotics may be recommended for individuals with specific foot deformities or needs.
  3. Avoid Smoking: Smoking restricts blood flow, exacerbating circulatory problems and increasing the risk of foot complications. Quitting smoking can improve circulation and overall health.
  4. Engage in Regular Physical Activity: Exercise improves blood circulation, contributes to blood sugar management, and promotes overall well-being. Activities should be chosen carefully to avoid foot injuries and should be discussed with a healthcare provider.
  5. Practice Good Foot Hygiene: Daily washing and thorough drying of the feet, especially between the toes, can prevent infections. Moisturising regularly while avoiding the area between the toes helps maintain skin integrity.
  6. Regularly Inspect Feet: Daily self-examinations to detect any changes or potential issues early on are crucial. This includes looking for cuts, bruises, blisters, and changes in skin color or texture.
  7. Seek Professional Care Promptly: Any signs of infection, such as increased warmth, redness, swelling, or pain, should prompt an immediate consultation with a healthcare provider. Early treatment of foot problems can prevent serious complications.
  8. Annual Comprehensive Foot Examinations: Regular check-ups with a podiatrist or healthcare provider specialising in diabetic foot care can identify potential problems before they become serious and can provide an opportunity for personalised advice and treatment adjustments.
  9. Educate Yourself About Diabetes and Foot Care: Knowledge is power. Understanding the risks and the steps you can take to minimise them is crucial. Participate in diabetes education programs and consult with healthcare professionals for advice tailored to your condition.
  10. Build a Support Network: Family, friends, and healthcare providers can offer support and assistance in managing diabetes and foot care. Don’t hesitate to ask for help when checking your feet or making lifestyle changes.

By adhering to these preventive measures, individuals with diabetes can actively reduce their risk of foot complications. It’s important to integrate these practices into daily life and to maintain open communication with healthcare providers about any concerns or changes in foot health.

Diabetic Foot Care Management with East Gosford Podiatry

The journey through diabetic foot care underscores its critical role in managing diabetes and maintaining overall health. By integrating daily care practices, preventive strategies, and understanding advanced care topics, individuals with diabetes can significantly mitigate the risk of serious foot complications. These efforts not only preserve foot health but also enhance quality of life, emphasising the importance of a comprehensive approach to diabetic foot care.

East Gosford Podiatry remains dedicated to empowering patients through education and personalised care plans. Our commitment extends beyond treating conditions to preventing them, ensuring each patient receives the support and guidance needed to navigate the challenges of diabetic foot health successfully.

We encourage you to take a proactive step towards optimal foot health by scheduling regular foot examinations and consultations with our experts at East Gosford Podiatry. Together, we can create a care plan tailored to your individual needs, helping you maintain healthy feet and manage your diabetes effectively.

Key Facts and Figures on Diabetes and Foot Health

The statistics surrounding diabetes and foot health in Australia paint a stark picture of the challenges faced by individuals with this condition.
Here are some of the most compelling facts and figures from Diabetes Australia, that underscore the importance of diligent foot care in the diabetic population:

  1. High Rate of Amputations: Australia sees more than 4,400 amputations annually due to diabetes, marking it as having the second highest rate in the developed world. This alarming number highlights the critical need for effective foot care and management strategies.
  2. Significant Mortality: In 2005, over 1,000 Australians with diabetes died as a direct result of foot ulcers and lower limb wounds, constituting about 8% of all diabetes-related deaths. This statistic underscores the lethal risk posed by untreated diabetic foot complications.
  3. Hospital Admissions: Each year, there are 10,000 hospital admissions for diabetes-related foot ulcers, many of which result in amputation. Early detection and management are key to reducing these numbers.
  4. Increasing Amputation Rates: Between 1998 and 2011, the rate of diabetes-related amputations in Australia increased by over 30%, signalling a growing problem that demands immediate attention.
  5. Economic Impact: Diabetic foot disease costs Australia approximately $875 million every year. The average cost of a diabetes-related limb amputation is around $23,555, with an additional $6,065 spent annually thereafter.
  6. Potential for Cost Savings: Investing in evidence-based care for diabetic foot ulcers could save around $2.7 billion over five years, translating to significant per-person savings for the healthcare system.
  7. Comparison with Cancer: The morbidity and mortality rates for patients with diabetic foot ulcers are comparable to those of aggressive forms of cancer, highlighting the severity of the condition.
  8. Healthcare Costs: The cost of providing healthcare to an individual who has had a diabetic foot ulcer is more than five times higher than for someone without such complications.
  9. Hospital Stay Length: Patients hospitalised for lower limb amputation due to diabetes have an average hospital stay of 26 days, longer than for other diabetes-related conditions.
  10. Preventability: Research indicates that up to 85% of diabetes-related amputations are preventable with early wound detection and appropriate management.

These figures reveal the urgent need for comprehensive foot care among individuals with diabetes. By raising awareness and implementing evidence-based practices, it is possible to significantly reduce the incidence of foot ulcers, amputations, and associated healthcare costs, ultimately improving the quality of life for those affected by diabetes.

We Accept Patients from all over the Central Coast

If you are in East Gosford and surrounding suburbs and are in need of a Podiatry appointment due to lower limb or feet issues you may need orthotics. Please contact our clinic on (02) 4325 0600

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(02) 4325 0600