Diabetic Foot

Diabetes mellitus is a common disease, with a growth that is especially alarming. The disease is marked by the inability to manufacture or properly use insulin, and impairs the body's ability to convert sugars, starches, and other foods into energy. The World Health Organization (WHO) expects the number of new diabetes cases to double in the next 25 years from 135 million to nearly 300 million. Much of this growth will occur in developing countries where aging, unhealthy diets, obesity, and sedentary lifestyles will contribute to the onset of the disease. In Malaysia, the incidence of diabetes has increased significantly, from 6.3% (1986) to 14.6% (1996).

Many complications are associated with diabetes. When small blood vessels undergo long-term damage, it will manifest as complications to the eyes, heart, kidneys, legs, and feet.  See Diabetes FAQ section for more information.

Unfortunately we tend to pay very little attention to our feet, even though an alarming 25% of diabetic patients develop foot problems related to the disease. So besides ensuring adequate control of their diabetes, diabetics should pay special attention to their feet.

The main causes of foot complications include:

  • Neuropathy
    Although it can hurt, diabetic nerve damage can also lessen your ability to feel pain, heat, and cold. Loss of feeling often means you may not feel a foot injury. You could have a nail or stone in your shoe and walk on it all day without knowing. You could get a blister and not feel it. You might not notice a foot injury until the skin breaks and becomes infected. If these minor injuries are left untreated, complications may result and lead to ulceration and possibly even amputation.

    Nerve damage can also lead to changes in the shape of your feet and toes, causing deformities such as Bunions, Hammer Toes, and Charcot Feet.

  • Poor Circulation
    Due to long-term vessel damage, diabetics usually have impaired blood circulation. The narrowing of the arteries leads to significantly decreased circulation in the lower part of the legs and feet. This also reduces the amount of oxygen and nutrition supplied to the skin and other tissue, causing injuries to heal poorly and also affecting the bodies’ ability to fight infection. Poor circulation can also lead to swelling and dryness of the foot.

Due to the consequences of neuropathy and poor circulation, daily observation of the feet is critical. When a diabetic patient takes the necessary preventative foot care measures, he or she reduces the risks of serious foot conditions.

Please check the FAQ section for more details on the various conditions and treatment for diabetic foot.

 

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