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Looking after the Diabetic Foot

If you're someone who lives with Diabetes, it is impor tant to know that proper foot care is taken.

A great number of diabetics will develop foot problems related to the disease. Diabetic foot conditions develop from a combination of causes including poor circulation and neuropathy. Diabetic Neuropathy can cause insensitivity or a loss of ability to feel pain, heat and cold.

Diabetics suffering from neuropathy can quite easily develop minor cuts, scrapes, blisters, or pressure sores that they may not be aware of due to the insensitivity. Poor shoe fit, excessive pressure and friction often go undetected. If these minor injuries are left untreated, complications may lead to ulceration and possibly even amputation. Neuropathy can also cause deformities such as Bunions, Hammer Toes and Charcot Foot.

The importance of proper shoe fit

To avoid friction, stress and pressure sores, you must have shoes that fit properly. For optimal support, make sure your shoe matches the length and width of your foot and that it provides an appropriate heel counter. Also ensure that there aren't any obtrusive seams or stitching inside because this will cause rubbing and chafing against your foot.

For diabetics with an existing foot condition thera- peutic footwear is often prescribed by a doctor or podiatrist and fitted by a qualified pedorthist. Private health funds cover part or all of the cost of special diabetic footwear.

Orthotic insoles for Diabetes

Most diabetics do not require customised diabetic footwear. Instead, a diabetic insole is fitted to prevent foot conditions from developing. Prevention is better than cure: it can save hundreds of dollars and a lot of unnecessary suffering.

Diabetic orthotics help to avoid pressure sores from developing as a result of friction inside the shoe. A common contributing cause of excess friction and pressure on the foot is over-pronation (rolling in of the foot and flattening of the arches).

Over-pronation leads to poor foot function and friction under the ball of the foot, on the outer edge of the big toe joint and on top of any of the five toe joints.

Orthotic insoles help prevent over-pronation and they evenly distribute body weight over the entire surface of the foot, thereby reducing friction and pressure.

Diabetic insoles are covered with a layer of Plast- azote. It is the material of choice for podiatrists, as it conforms rapidly to the individual's foot, providing a glove-fit which limits rubbing and potential blister or ulcer formation. Orthotic insoles for diabetics can be custom-made or store-bought from your pharmacy.

Helpful foot tips for Diabetics

Follow these useful tips to protect your feet:

  • inspect your feet on a daily basis
  • look for signs of sores, swelling, discoloration, cuts and blisters. Use a mirror to see the botton of your feet, if need be.
  • keep your feet clean. Wash with warm water with a mildly concentrated soap and dry with care, particularly between your toes.
  • in dry skin areas, use lotion but never between your toes (use foot powder between your toes).
  • keep your toenails trimmed and make cuts straight across the top of the nail (contact a podiatrist or pedicurist for assistance).
  • change your socks or stockings every day
  • avoid tight elastics on your socks - seamless, fitted socks are best.

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