Step on it – pay attention to your feet!
NT Health is encouraging Territorians with diabetes to learn how the health of their feet is important for their overall health.
During Foot Health Week (12-18 October) Top End Health Service’s High Risk Foot Service Senior Podiatrist Sally Lamond said feet were often the first place to show diabetes-related symptoms.
“It’s important to pay attention to any changes in your feet because a major symptom of diabetes is damage to the nerves in your feet,” she said.
“The damaged nerve function is called neuropathy, and about half of all people with diabetes have some form of nerve damage.”
Neuropathy results in either pain, tingling, weakness or reduced sensation in the feet and lower limbs. A loss of feeling in the feet often leads to an abnormal walking pattern causing increased pressure in certain areas of the foot.
The development of callous can be an indication of abnormal pressure being applied, and continuing to walk on an ‘insensitive foot’ increases the likelihood of ulcers (foot wounds) forming, and reduces the ability of the body to heal this wound.
Ms Lamond said with the Northern Territory’s exceptionally high rates of diabetes and, subsequently, diabetes-related foot disease, it was vital Territorians with diabetes took preventative action to look after their feet.
“Because of the loss of sensation in the foot, a person with diabetes is less likely to notice and treat an injury, allowing it to progress to a more serious, advanced stage,” she said.
“Advanced diabetes can reveal itself through the foot as ulcers due to a lack of sensation and/or a lack of blood flow and infection, and in severe cases can require amputation.
“Diabetes foot complications are a leading cause of hospitalisation.”
The diabetes statistics for Australians is high with 280 Australians developing diabetes every day, which equals about one person every five minutes.
Aboriginal people are also four to six times more likely to be admitted to hospital for a diabetes-related foot wound or complication than non-Aboriginal people.
Some tips healthy foot tips for Territorians with diabetes include:
- Wash, dry and check your feet every day for changes
- Wear protective footwear, particularly if you have nerve damage
- Seek help from your GP or community clinic if you notice any changes including new wounds, blisters, redness, pain and swelling
- Visit your podiatrist regularly
- Avoid smoking
- Keep physically active
For more information visit the Diabetic Foot Australia webpage