Over 3.7 million people are living with diabetes here in the UK, a number which has doubled in the past 20 years. 90% of those diagnosed, suffer with type 2 diabetes, 8% with type 1 and 2% have rare forms of diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes in London is growing faster than anywhere else in the country, and it is thought that over 140,000 Londoners are yet to be diagnosed.
As the rates increase, so does the strain on our NHS, who have been criticised for not providing the recommended level of care. Leaving many people waiting on one of the most important factors of diabetes, foot care.
The presence of high blood glucose levels over a long period of time can cause nerve damage (neuropathy) and reduce blood flow to the feet. As a result, feeling pain or healing an injury poses a risk, and may result in lower limb amputation.
Due to lack of feeling it can also be harder for a patient to care for their feet day to day.
For example, someone who has diabetes and is receiving foot care would be advised not to wear tight shoes which rub and cause pain, however an undiagnosed diabetic may not feel the pain and continue to unknowingly cause damage.
Equally so, walking barefoot or with sandals poses a risk to direct injury.
For this reason diabetics are urged to check their feet daily, and have a full clinical check at least once a year from a qualified podiatrist.
The two biggest threats to the diabetic foot:
1) Diabetic foot ulcers (usually caused by micro or macro trauma)
2) Charcot Neuropathy – which is essentially a bunch of fractured bones in the foot resulting in a majorly misshapen foot.
You should see your podiatrist as soon as you can if you notice any of the above.
As well as checking your feet daily, here are some top tips on caring for them at home and reducing damage from occurring to your feet.
Between 20,000 and 30,000 people have lower limb amputations due to diabetes each year.
With 80% of unhealed ulcers and foot infections being the cause.
It is extremely important to take care of your feet to continue with your independence, with the added pressure of disability, you could well suffer further ill health.
It may seem scary but it is avoidable, keeping your feet healthy and attending a foot clinic once a year will help you prevent diabetic complications.
The results will help us decide how many times a year you will need your feet checking, or if any immediate action needs to be taken.