Diabetic sufferers urged to take foot care more seriously

by Sarita Sheth on August 30, 2012

A daily nail and foot care regime is important

Diabetes sufferers need to pay more attention to proper foot care as many are unaware of the risks including amputation, research suggests.

With many countries throughout the world seeing a huge rise in the incidences of type 2 diabetes due to obesity and unhealthy lifestyles it has been found that small unnoticed and untreated foot problems can potentially lead to serious problems.

Research carried out in Canada by Léger Marketing in collaboration with the Canadian Diabetes Association, has found that while nine in 10 Canadians with diabetes are aware they are at an increased risk of serious foot injuries, four in 10 admit to having their feet examined by a doctor less than once a year, only when something is wrong and for some, never.

The Association says that of equal concern is the finding that seven in 10 do not examine their feet for blisters, cuts, temperature differences or other injuries on a daily basis and less than one in 10 admit to never following a daily nail or foot care regime.

‘Clearly more needs to be done to assist people living with diabetes to take the necessary precautions to protect their feet. Even small unnoticed and untreated foot injuries can potentially lead to serious complications. Prevention is the best medicine as a good daily nail and foot care regime will keep feet healthy,’ said Michael Cloutier, president and chief executive officer of the Canadian Diabetes Association.

He suggested that many people are unaware that wearing open footwear such as sandals and flip flops make foot problems more likely.

In addition, damage to the sensory nerves, known as neuropathy, can reduce the ability to feel pain, heat or cold in feet and hands. This loss of sensation can lead to foot injuries that if left unnoticed can result in potentially serious complications, such as amputation.

Some 85% of all leg amputations are a result of non-healing foot ulcers, more than half of which may have been prevented with more effective nail and foot care, and by people with diabetes wearing appropriate footwear.

It is estimated that 15% or 345,000 of Canadians living with diabetes will develop a diabetic foot ulcer in their lifetime. Canadians living with diabetes are 23 times more likely to be hospitalized for a limb amputation than people without diabetes.

However, Canadians living with diabetes who see a healthcare professional at least three times per year are 33% less likely to undergo amputation. Also it is estimated that diabetic foot ulcers cost the Canadian healthcare system more than $150 million annually.

According to the Canadian Diabetes Association’s Clinical Practice Guidelines, foot examinations should be an integral part of diabetes management for both people with diabetes and their healthcare providers. In fact, the Guidelines recommend foot examinations be performed at least once a year by a healthcare provider and more frequently for people with diabetes at high risk of foot ulceration and amputation.

‘Having the right information can enable people with diabetes to take action. When they know the right questions to ask their healthcare professional, they develop a better understanding of how to properly care for their feet as risks can be identified and precautions advised,’ said Dr. Axel Rohrmann, podiatrist and co-chair of the Canadian Diabetes Association’s Clinical Practice Guidelines Foot Care Tool Kit.

Pam Osborne, a diabetes educator said that diabetes related foot injuries are common, costly, yet preventable so long as people with diabetes are equipped with the knowledge to take the appropriate steps.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the DiabetesForum.com Community and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please see your doctor before making any changes to your diabetes management plan.

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