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Foot Ulcers – A Complication Of Diabetes

Foot ulcerWe have been seeing quite a lot of diabetic ulcers at the clinic recently. Last week Loretta talked about diabetes and how it can affect your feet. I thought that I would extend on that and discuss one of the major foot complications that can occur in our patients, in particular our diabetic patients.

Foot Ulcers

A foot ulcer is an open sore or wound that occurs commonly in patients with diabetes. The term ‘ulcer’ refers to a hole in the skin. We often hear about a stomach ulcer which is a hole in the lining of the stomach. A foot ulcer is a break in the skin that usually occurs in high pressure areas. It is common to find them under or surrounded by a callus. The actual break in the skin can be very small but a larger ulcer can be hidden underneath. Most amputations are preceded by a foot ulcer that is why it’s of vital importance to seek treatment if a small cut or ulcer is suspected.

Ulcers can form due to a combination of factors:

  • Peripheral neuropathy. This is nerve damage in the feet or lower legs. Diabetes is the most common cause of peripheral neuropathy. When nerves in the feet are damaged, they can no longer warn about pain or discomfort. People with peripheral neuropathy may not be able to feel when they’ve stepped on something sharp or when they have an irritating pebble in their shoes. They can injure their feet significantly and never know it, unless they examine their feet routinely for injury.
  • Poor circulation. Any illness that decreases circulation to the feet can cause foot ulcers. Reduced blood supply to your feet slows down healing of cuts and sores which can result in infection and or an ulcer.
  • Foot deformities. Bunions, hammer toes or clawing of your toes can all cause rubbing and result in a pressure ulcer.
  • Shoes to tight or not right for your foot type. The rubbing or friction of narrow shoes is common cause of ulcers.
  • Uncontrolled diabetes. If your blood glucose levels fluctuate quite are lot you may be at a higher risk of developing ulcers.

The best way to prevent an ulcer occurring:

  • Inspect your feet every day. If you cannot reach your feet to look at the soles of them use a hand mirror to inspect them as well as in between your toes.
  • Wear shoes as often as possible!
  • Make sure the shoes are appropriate for your foot type and not to narrow or tight. If you are concerned ask your podiatrist at your next visit to assess them for you.
  • Get your calluses treated by your podiatrist regularly.
  • Get diabetic assessment at least once a year.

If you have a cut, blister or suspect an ulcer make an appointment to see your podiatrist immediately.

Thankyou for reading,

Kimberly

We have HICAPS available in our clinic, which means that our patients can claim from their private health fund straight away

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Shop 2/17-19 East Parade
Sutherland, NSW 2232

Tel: 02 9542 3491
Email: info@sutherlandpodiatry.com.au