Diabetes-related foot problems are common, and negatively impact patients’ quality of life. Therefore, it is important that pharmacists and healthcare professionals are aware of symptoms and the relevant care pathways for these patients to ensure they receive the best care and education regarding how to manage their condition.
Diabetic Foot Problems
Over time, diabetes may cause neuropathy in the feet, which may result in a loss of feeling.
The two main foot problems that affect people with diabetes are:
Over time, diabetes can cause nerve damage that makes it hard for people with diabetes to feel sensation in their extremities.
The condition also makes it difficult for a person to feel an irritation on their foot or notice when their shoes are rubbing. This lack of sensation and awareness leads to an increase in the risk of cuts, sores, and blisters developing.
Peripheral Vascular Disease
Diabetes leads to changes in the blood vessels, including arteries. In peripheral vascular disease, fatty deposits block these vessels beyond the brain and heart. It tends to affect the blood vessels leading to and from the extremities, reducing blood flow to the hands and feet.
Reduced blood flow can lead to pain, infection, and slow healing wounds. Severe infections may lead to amputation.
Symptoms may vary from person to person and may depend on what issues a person is experiencing at the time. Symptoms of diabetic foot problems can include the following:
If an infection is present in a foot or foot ulcer, a person may also experience some of the following:
Anyone who experiences any of the symptoms of an infection should seek emergency treatment.
Diabetic neuropathy and peripheral vascular disease are serious conditions that must be monitored closely. Both cause complications that can have serious negative effects. These complications may include:
Immediate medical attention should be sought if there are changes to the feet such as skin color, persistent sores, tingling, and swelling of the foot or ankle.
People who have diabetes should see a doctor regularly as part of their care. However, they should seek immediate medical attention if they notice any of the following:
Treatment for diabetic foot problems varies according to the severity of the condition. A range of surgical and nonsurgical options is available.
Nonsurgical options are normally the first method of treatment for diabetic foot problems. Some of these include:
When nonsurgical treatment fails to heal diabetic foot problems, surgery may be considered. Surgical treatment options include:
Examining the feet daily and keeping them clean is recommended to prevent diabetic foot problems.
Preventing diabetic foot problems is essential for people who have diabetes. Keeping feet healthy is important, and a person should be vigilant about foot hygiene. They can take the following steps:
Diabetes can cause serious foot problems that can result in loss of the feet or limbs, deformity, and infections. However, many of these problems can be prevented or minimized.
While controlling blood sugar by following the recommended treatment plans is the best way to prevent these serious problems, self care and regular check ups with a doctor can prevent diabetic foot problems as well.
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