Diabetes stock image picturing blood glucose monitor, shoes, notepad, and stethoscope

Diabetes Series: Foot Care

Part II: Foot Care

37.3 million Americans—about 1 in 10—have diabetes. Though it’s significant to note that approximately 1 in 2 adults living with type 2 diabetes are undiagnosed or unaware.

As mentioned in Part I of this series, diabetes can have some seriously negative long-term outcomes. Over time, diabetes can damage the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys, and nerves. Foot issues are an especially common consequence of diabetes.

Why Does Diabetes Cause Foot Problems?

Diabetic foot problems result from a combination of nerve damage (neuropathy) and reduced blood flow.

Neuropathy is a common consequence of chronically high blood sugar levels. High blood sugar damages nerves, which in turn affects their ability to send messages to different parts of the body. Patients with neuropathy can experience sensations ranging from numbness to severe pain in their hands, feet, legs, and arms.

Regardless of how the nerves react, neuropathy greatly increases the chance of foot problems because patients may struggle to identify tissue damage before it becomes severe. Coupled with poor blood flow (another common complication of diabetes), which contributes to slow healing of cuts and sores, untreated foot problems can become foot ulcers, infections and, at worst, amputations.

The good news is that most foot problems can be prevented with thorough, regular footcare.

Photo Credit: CDC.gov

Foot Care for Prevention of Diabetic Foot Ulcers

WHO highlights foot care as both a cost-saving and feasible intervention for patients in low- and middle-income countries or those without regular access to a team of healthcare professionals.

Self-foot care for diabetes patients includes:

Although diabetes foot care begins at home, as the final foot care point listed above suggests, healthcare professionals also play a role in the early detection and prevention of diabetic foot ulcers.

Clinical Prevention of Diabetic Foot Ulcers

Prevention starts with education- talking to patients about proper foot care- but also consists of followed by screening and treatment. Clinics ranging from home care nurses to general practitioners, and from physical therapists to pharmacists all play a role in the early detection and prevention of diabetic foot ulcers.

Modern technology makes the screening and detection of foot issues faster and easier than ever. Plantar pressure measurement devices, such as the Stepscan System, identify areas of high pressure long before tissue damage occurs, giving clinicians time to intervene and, ultimately, prevent diabetic ulcerations.

The widespread implementation of such technology into primary healthcare centers could have a significant positive impact on both senior care and outcomes for diabetes patients.

The Stepscan System & Senior Care

Stepscan believes that mobility is the litmus test for healthy aging. The Stepscan System is a mobility assessment tool capable of measuring and tracking irregularities in gait and balance, easily and quickly identifying seniors who are at high risk for falling.

The same equipment also analyzes underfoot pressures, identifying high peak plantar pressures. When used to assess diabetes patients, the system helps clinicians determine which patients are at high risk for diabetic foot ulcers.

In senior care, Stepscan can help:

  • Reduce assessment time for fall risk and diabetic foot ulcers

  • Improve the quality of profiling and risk stratification for fall risk and diabetic foot ulceration

  • Improve the proactive care of persons identified at high risk for a fall or for diabetic foot ulcers

  • Improve patient outcomes

If you are interested in exploring new strategies to improve the proactive care of seniors in your practice, schedule a conversation with us today.

Additional Resources

Diabetes UK has some fantastic public information and free guides for diabetes patients and clinicians. Check out the following resources for some information about foot care for diabetes patients.

Ask a Diabetes Expert Podcast from Diabetes UK 

How to test your feet for diabetic feet sensitivity’, video from Diabetes UK

‘How to look after your feet’, article with video from Diabetes UK

About Crystal Trevors

Crystal is the founder and owner of Stepscan Technologies Inc. She holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of New Brunswick, a Master of Science in Biology from the University of Prince Edward Island, and a Master in Business Administration from the University of Guelph. Her business and research interests include corporate performance management and reporting, process improvement and operational efficiencies. Operating Stepscan is a dream come true for her, allowing her to combine her love of biology, research and business, every day.

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