November is Diabetes awareness month. Across the country, there are events happening to raise awareness about Diabetes and its impact on Canadians. There are 11 million Canadians living with diabetes or prediabetes. Every three minutes, another Canadian is diagnosed. Chances are that diabetes affects you or someone you know (Diabetes Canada, 2017).
Diabetes is a serious health problem across the developed world. High blood sugar associated with Diabetes can result in a wide range of complications if not managed properly. Foot problems, kidney disease, eye disease, heart disease and nerve damage are common amongst people with chronic high blood sugar. Properly managing your blood sugar and taking preventative steps can drastically reduce your risk for complications. Your SoleScience Pedorthist is one of many healthcare providers that can help manage your risk factors for Diabetes related complications.
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a chronic, often debilitating disease in which the body either cannot produce insulin or cannot properly use the insulin that it produces.
Insulin is a hormone that regulates sugar in the bloodstream. Diabetes leads to high blood sugar levels, which can damage various systems in the body including the organs, blood vessels and nerves. The body needs insulin to properly break down sugar to use as an energy source.
Diabetes can cause nerve damage and blood flow problems in the feet and lower limbs. As a result, people with diabetes are at a higher risk for developing complications from minor injuries such as blisters or cuts. Nerve damage reduces sensations in the feet, making it difficult to feel when an injury has occurred. Poor blood flow makes it difficult for the body to heal from small cuts or wounds.
These impairments in combination can cause a small injury to become a much larger problem.
What Can I do?
Check your footwear regularly. Wear shoes that fit well and support your foot. Shoes should be supportive, low-heeled, and wide enough to accommodate your foot. Shoes should not rub or pinch in any area and, ideally, should be lined with a soft, seamless interior. Shoes that are either worn out or do not fit properly often contribute to foot complications.
Protect your feet, both inside and outside the home. Wear a hard-soled slipper or sandal inside to protect against injury. Always wear socks for added protection.
Inspect your feet and toes daily. Look for any changes to the skin: redness, blisters, cracks, dry patches, etc. Check toenails for sharp edges, cracks or other changes.
Maintain a healthy lifestyle. Healthy eating, blood glucose management, and weight control are essential to successful diabetes management. Consult your family doctor, dietician, or diabetes care team for more information.
There are a wide variety of resources and treatment options for people living with diabetes. Diabetes may be medically managed by your family physician, nurse practitioner, or diabetologist. Many communities have diabetes care teams that incorporate dieticians, nurses, kinesiologists, physical therapists, and other healthcare providers to provide a variety of treatments and management strategies, including exercise prescription, physical therapy, diet plans, and lifestyle modifications.
Foot care for people with diabetes starts with prevention. Your pedorthist can help you reduce your risk for diabetes-related foot complications with footwear advice, modifications to your footwear, custom orthotics or off-the-shelf foot orthoses, stretching and range of motion exercises, and most importantly, annual foot exams.
Still have questions, or want to book a foot exam? Contact us today!