The importance of an annual diabetic foot assessment
By contactus@simcoefootclinic.ca
September 27, 2017
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Preventing Diabetic Foot Complications
 

Without proper diabetes management, complications from diabetes can be severe and sometimes life threatening. With a variety of potential complications like cardiovascular disease, kidney disease and vision impairments, foot care is not always at the top of everyone’s mind but it should be viewed with equal importance. Of the 1.5 million people with diabetes in Ontario up to 27,600 are expected to have a diabetic foot ulcer in one year alone. Diabetic wounds and ulcers are often debilitating, preventing patients from performing daily activities - even walking.

A long term complication from diabetes is poor circulation and immunity associated with nerve damage in the feet. With loss of feeling in the feet, diabetics may not feel a foot injury, blister or cut. Left untreated, sores, ulcers and wounds may become infected leading to serious complications like amputation.

Every four hours, there is one amputation in Ontario as a result of a diabetic foot ulcer.
That’s over 2000 amputations a year in Ontario alone, amputations that are associated with 800 deaths.

The good news is that with early detection and effective wound care, most of these amputations can be prevented. Diabetic foot assessments should be performed as a part of proper diabetes management at least annually and more frequently for those at high risk for complications. Your Chiropodist will perform neurological (nerves), vascular (blood), dermatological (skin) and musculoskeletal (muscle, ligaments, joints and bone) examinations in order to detect and prevent serious foot related complications.


Taking care of your feet at home is essential to maintaining proper diabetes management and preventing foot related issues from occurring.

Check your feet daily

Remember that you may not feel the pain of an injury so it is important to examine your bare feet every day for any cuts, sores, swelling, bruises, redness or any changes in colour. Check the tops, bottoms, in between the toes as well as the nails.

Wash your feet every day

With mild soap, wash feet daily with warm (not hot) water for no longer than 15 minutes. It is important to dry them thoroughly, especially between the toes.

Keep your skin soft and smooth

To prevent cracking which can lead to infection, apply lotion to the tops and bottoms of your feet but never between your toes. We recommend using products containing Urea when possible.

Change your socks daily

Wear diabetic or seamless socks, or wear regular socks inside out. If your feet get cold at night, wear socks to bed.  White socks are recommended incase of injury so that any blood will be visible.

Smooth corns and callouses gently

If your feet are at low risk for problems, use a pumice stone to smooth out callouses. If your feet are at medium or high risk then see your chiropodist for professional treatment. Do not use any products that are sharp or have a blade to treat your feet. Additionally, Do not apply over the counter corn or wart treatments.

Cutting your nails

If you can see and reach your toenails, trim them each week or as needed. Trim your toenail straight across and file the edges and corners with an emery board or nail file. If you cannot see or reach your feet or have neuropathy, see your chiropodist.

Wear shoes and socks at all times

Never go barefoot. Wear well fitting shoes, sandals or slippers at all times with a sole protective enough that a thumbtack could not pierce through.
Before putting on your shoes, feel inside to make sure the lining is smooth and there are no foreign objects.

Keep the blood flowing to your feet

Wiggle your toes and move your ankles up and down for five minutes 2-3 times a day to increase circulation. Put your feet up when sitting and don’t cross your legs for long periods of time. Smoking constricts blood vessels and can worsen symptoms so talk to your physician about smoking cessation.

Want to learn more? Visit Wounds Canada for additional resources. 

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