Foot Screening for Diabetes
If you have diabetes, your healthcare professional will always advise you to take good care of your feet. Do you know the reason for this preventive measure? Have you ever asked how this is relevant in observing proper diabetes management?
Foot conditions are common in people with varying blood sugar levels. According to studies, about 7 – 10% of people with type 2 diabetes develop various foot conditions because of their failure to manage their illness. This results in their increased risk for amputations.
Foot complications in people with diabetes
One of the major complications of diabetes is diabetic neuropathy. It is a type of nerve damage triggered by long-term high blood sugar. Its symptoms include tingling, numbness, burning, and pain in some parts of the body. It usually affects the feet, legs, and arms.
Now, how is diabetic neuropathy associated with foot conditions? As mentioned, diabetic neuropathy is common in the feet. When the nerves in this particular area are damaged, it can result in the foot’s inability to feel pain or sensations. An injury in the foot can go unnoticed because of nerve damage, which can lead to severe conditions.
Additionally, diabetes affects proper blood flow to the feet. When you are wounded or infected, the healing time becomes more prolonged. This explains the necessity of foot screening should you have diabetes to help prevent worsening symptoms or inhibit certain foot conditions from happening in the first place.
The following are various foot conditions that may happen in people with diabetes:
- Bone and joint pain
- Calluses or corns
- Ulcers and blisters
- Vascular disease
- Change in skin temperature
- Skin deformities
What to expect in a diabetes foot screening or exam?
The following are observed during a diabetes foot screening:
For a general assessment:
- Questions relating to your health history, especially if you have previous conditions with your feet.
- Your healthcare professional will ask about your shoe size and if it’s a proper fit.
For a dermatological assessment:
- Your healthcare professional will look for skin problems in your feet, such as ulcers, blisters, and dryness.
- Your toenails will also be checked to see if a fungal infection is present.
For a neurologic assessment (observance of different tests):
- Monofilament test – Testing your foot’s sensitivity using a monofilament (a soft nylon fiber)
- Tuning fork and visual perception tests (VPT) – Testing if your feet and toes will react to the vibration that a tuning fork or other devices can do.
- Pinprick test – Using a small pin to poke the bottom of your feet.
- Ankle reflexes – Using a small mallet to test your ankle reflexes
How to keep your feet healthy?
Aside from following daily diabetes medications, eating a healthy meal plan, and exercising regularly, monitoring your feet is also one way to prevent diabetes-related complications. The list below includes smart tips you can follow to keep your feet healthy:
- Avoid walking barefoot. You should always wear shoes, socks, or slippers to avoid unexpected injuries.
- Wash your feet daily. You can also apply lotion to the top and bottom parts of your feet after getting them dry.
- Monitor your feet daily by checking them. Look for cuts, swelling, blisters, sores, or corns. If these are not present, then you are doing an excellent job in taking care of your feet.
- Wear comfortable shoes. Always choose the best fit for your feet.
- Trim your toenails properly and safely. Avoid cutting your skin under the nails.
- If you have calluses, avoid removing them yourself. Ask for special medical help.
- Ensure the blood flows properly in your feet.
- Avoid doing activities that may harm your feet