Diabetes and Podiatry in Australia
It is estimated that 1.7 million Australians have diabetes. This includes the 1.2 million Australians who have been diagnosed and the estimated 500,000 silent undiagnosed diabetics. More than 100,000 Australians have developed diabetes in the past year, that is one person every five minutes. Podiatry for people with diabetes is one of the most overlooked areas of diabetes management.
Why is podiatry important for people with diabetes?
Diabetes is a serious, complex condition which can affect your entire body, including your feet. Your feet are at risk because diabetes can cause damage to the nerves in your feet, reduce blood circulation and there is an increased risk of infection.
The greatest concern for people living with diabetes is where there is a loss of the protective sensation in their feet; a condition called peripheral neuropathy. This renders many diabetics unable to feel painful stimuli with their feet and can lead to foot ulcers and amputation. In Australia each year there are 4,400 lower limb amputations each year. Including a podiatrist in your health care team can reduce your risk of amputation by up to 85%.
Diabetes can also affect your circulatory system; poor blood circulation can affect the blood supply to your feet. When circulation is reduced, it takes longer for cuts and scratches to heal. Cramping, swelling and pain when walking are all side effects of poor circulation. This can occur when arteries become hardened and clogged up. Our podiatrists are experienced in thoroughly assessing the vascular status of people living with diabetes.
Diabetes can also lower your immune system, which means that small cuts can quickly become infected. Often small blisters, callouses, scrapes and cracks on our feet are overlooked, which means they are prime candidates for wounds that refuse to heal. Depending on your overall health and whether there are any other diabetic related health complications present, a minor wound can quickly turn into an emergency. Ulceration, cellulitis, septicaemia, gangrene and amputation are all diabetic foot complications if wounds are left untreated.
However, before you become alarmed, with just a few minor changes to your routine and a regular check up with our podiatrists, diabetes-related foot complications are completely avoidable.