For the 2 million Canadians living with diabetes, foot care needs to be a daily priority. Longterm complications from diabetes can include foot problems such as infections and ulcerations that can lead to amputation. In fact, foot problems are the leading cause of hospitalization for Canadians living with diabetes. The majority of diabetic foot problems can be avoided through daily foot care and proper shoe selection. Many people with diabetes have reduced circulation or sensation in their feet. It’s a condition called neuropathy, and are not able to feel if something in the shoe, or the shoe itself is irritating their foot causing wounds or ulcers.
Canadian Certified Pedorthists urge and teach people with diabetes to visually inspect their feet each and every day. I recommend that my patients keep a mirror in the area where they normally remove their shoes and socks. The mirror will make it easier for them to inspect their feet, checking for redness and callusing, which are indicators of pressure, and may be resolved through orthotics or better shoe selection. If they notice swelling, broken skin, sores or bleeding they should see their doctor immediately to avoid serious infections or complications.
Because feet can be so sensitive for people living with diabetes, we recommend wearing shoes around the home as well as outdoors, to protect their feet from injury. It’s also a good idea to wear socks without seams or elastics and make sure they don’t bunch or wrinkle as this can cause irritation to the skin and lead to breakdown or ulceration. And, before they put on their shoes, they should always shake out their shoes and feel around inside to be sure they are free from foreign objects that can cause injury.
Canadian Certified Pedorthists teach patients how to care for their feet and provide professional footwear advice. If needed we can modify shoes to the exact specifications of our patients to minimize pressure points and discomfort. For many of our patients with diabetes we create custom orthotics to provide additional arch and metatarsal support, to help even out the pressures across the middle of the foot. In addition, wedging or modifying shoes under pressure points can help reduce the chances of ulceration.
Regular foot examinations, professional shoe fitting and a daily foot care routine are vital to maintaining healthy feet and protecting against foot problems that could lead to amputation. If you have diabetes you should also visit a Canadian Certified Pedorthist twice a year to have your work shoes, indoor shoes, runners, sandals and winter boots examined for appropriateness and wear.