If you’ve recently been diagnosed with diabetes, you might have been recommended by your doctor to book in to see a podiatrist. And you’re probably wondering why.
Whether you or someone close to you has been diagnosed with diabetes, the link between this condition and seeing a podiatrist might be a confusing one to make. So, to help you out, we’ve put together some handy information that you need to know about diabetes and podiatrists.
Let’s get started!
What is podiatry?
Podiatry is the area of medicine that is focused on the health and wellbeing of issues and disorders that can affect the feet, ankles and lower extremities of the body.
A professional in this field is known as a podiatrist, and they study, diagnose, assess and treat all sorts of conditions that can affect the feet. This includes injuries, structural issues, damage to the bones, tendons and ligaments, and even external conditions, like skin and nail infections and injuries.
What’s the link between podiatry, feet and diabetes?
If you have diabetes you will be told to book in to see a podiatrist because no matter the type of diabetes, whether it’s type 1 or type 2, your feet are some of the most affected areas of the body.
This is because diabetes can impact the way and what makes up the blood in the body, and as your feet are so far away from your heart, when there are issues affecting the blood, caused by diabetes, the signs of these are most commonly seen and affect the feet.
So, what can the feet tell you about diabetes?
How diabetes can affect your feet
Here are the ways in which diabetes can impact your feet.
1. Blood Flow
Diabetes can impact the way blood circulates throughout the body. When there are excessive sugar molecules in the blood, this can cause the arteries to become blocked or at least decrease the amount of blood they circulate.
As we touched on above, the feet are the parts of the body furthest from the heart, so they are already receiving blood at a slower pace than other areas. When the arteries are clogged or blocked by the excessive sugar molecules, this can mean that the feet don’t receive proper blood flow. It might be slowed or it might not even happen at all, which can cause major problems.
A podiatrist will examine your feet to ensure they have sufficient and proper blood flow reaching them. They do this in a variety of ways, sometimes just the tone of the skin is enough to assess, however, they will look at the condition of the skin and nails, as well as check for a healthy pulse in the feet too.
Our nerves help us to feel sensations, which is particularly important in the feet as we use them to move on every day. If we can’t feel them properly, this can lead to accidents, and we might not even realise we have caused damage to our feet.
Nerve fibres are protected by something called the myelin sheath. The sheath ensures the nerves are not exposed which can cause them to be desensitized. The way diabetes affects the myelin sheath is that it can’t absorb too much sugar. When it does absorb excessive sugar, it can destroy the sheath and leave you with exposed nerve fibres.
This means that you might not be able to feel cuts, heat, vibrations and have difficulty walking properly due to numbness.
A podiatrist will run various sensation tests to ensure you’re feeling what you should be able to feel.
3. Skin and Nails
Good blood flow is positive for many different reasons, including improving the condition and look of your skin and nails.
As diabetes can impact your blood flow, and definitely impact your feet, there can be significant changes in the health of your skin and nails on your feet.
The skin and nails can be a dead giveaway for when the blood supply to your feet isn’t great. And if infections or other issues affecting the skin and nails of your feet occur, they can be more difficult to heal without adequate blood flow.
A podiatrist can assess your skin and nails to ensure blood supply is good, and they can also help treat any conditions that may be affecting them.
Book to see a podiatrist if you have diabetes
The message is simple, if you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, book into see a podiatrist. Regular appointments and assessments could save you a lot of hassle in the long run.
If you’re looking for Bulleen podiatry services, you can’t go past our friends at Watsonia Podiatry. They can treat all sorts of conditions that may be affecting your feet, ankles and lower limbs!