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If you have diabetes you should be checking your feet every day.  Although it sounds innocuous, failing to regularly and carefully check the soles of your feet, if you suffer from diabetes, could be the difference between life and death.

  • In the time that it takes to read this bullet point, somebodyUlcers on toes in the world will have had an amputation below the knee due to their diabetes. 
  • Amputations could be of a toe, a partial foot, the leg below the knee or worse.
  • For people with diabetes, there are over 140 amputations* each week in England alone.
  • People with diabetes are 30 times more likely to have an amputation than any other (non-trauma) patient group.
But that is not the end of this sad statistic. Studies show that up to 80% of people die within 5 years of having an amputation, with only 50% surviving for two years or more.

Your feet are important to you

Imagine being in a position where you could not walk unaided or even walk at all? Losing the use of one of your feet (even for a short period of time) means that the trip to the corner shop, a visit to a neighbour’s house, going to the bathroom or even just walking to the kitchen to make a cup of tea all become major events. And this assumes that you can still walk around and not be sat with your foot up in a bandage or cast.

Being incapacitated, by having a problem with your feet, affects all aspects of your life, from simple things that we take for granted, like standing up and walking about, to more involved activities like driving or doing exercise. You only realise how true this is if you are unfortunate enough to lose the use of one or both of your feet at any time in your life.

Whatever your specific situation, one thing is clear. You should be taking good care of your feet more often and more thoroughly then you probably believe.

What is the link between diabetes and amputations?

With up to 80% of amputations being preventable, the question is, how does something like diabetes cause this situation to occur in the first place? With diabetes, it is all to do with blood flow and your nerves:

  • Diabetes causes a reduction in blood flow (circulation) to the feetUlcer on ball of foot
  • This can, in turn, cause nerve damage resulting in a loss of pain sensation, commonly known as neuropathy or peripheral neuropathy.
  • Without the gift of pain to tell us that something is wrong, a small cut or blister can develop into an ulcer and then an infected wound very quickly. 

An ulcer is simply a wound that takes a long time to heal due to reduced blood flow. But they are nothing like the mouth ulcers that most people have had at one time or another - see the photo opposite!

High blood sugar levels, associated with people who have diabetes, makes a wound like this more susceptible to infection. If not quickly and properly treated, an infected ulcer can become untreatable with amputation of the infected area or limb being the only answer.

So why is checking your feet important?

If you have diabetes, then you should really be looking after your feet. Warning signs for poor circulation and neuropathy will vary depending on the nerves damaged, but can be any of the following:

  • Pain
  • Lack of or hyper-sensitivity
  • Skin discolouration
  • A build-up of dry skin
  • Small cracks on the soles of your feet.
  • Tingling/numbness
  • Burning
  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Tenderness

Here’s why it is important to keep a regular check on your feet:

  • If you get a small cut or injury, it may take longer to heal than you think.
  • This could develop into an ulcer which can become infected, particularly if you have reduced sensation in your feet.
  • An ulcer needs specialist treatment by a properly qualified foot specialist (podiatrist or chiropodist) and treatments vary in complexity and length.
  • If an ulcer is not treated quickly enough, it could become infected and may not respond to treatment. This could result in the affected limb being amputated*.

[*Every week there are over 140 lower limb, diabetes related, amputations in England alone. 80% of these could be avoided. Source: Diabetes UK]

Regularly checking your feet, with a simple foot inspection mirror, can help to identify any potential cuts or damage to the skin and therefore reduce the risk of developing ulcers.

If you see anything on your feet that gives you a cause for concern, then don’t delay. Contact your GP/Diabetic Nurse or Podiatrist immediately for professional advice.

By inspecting your feet everyday with a Solesee Foot Inspection Mirror, and looking for any signs of blisters or ulcers developing, you can prevent further risk of infection.

To help with your daily foot checking routine, and find products to help your feet if you suffer from diabetes, please visit our online shop. 

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