It is estimated that around 11 million Canadians currently live with diabetes or prediabetes. This is a significant percentage of the population, which means that chances are, you likely know someone affected by the disease.
Long-term complications in people with diabetes frequently manifest in foot problems such as infections and ulcerations. In fact, foot problems are the leading cause of hospitalization for Canadians living with diabetes. Between 14 and 24 per cent of those living with diabetes are at risk of developing a foot ulcer that could result in the amputation of a foot or leg.
Education is Key
If you are living with diabetes or are prediabetic, it is crucial to educate yourself on the disease, and find ways to better manage your own health. Staying on top of things will help you avoid complications in the long run.
One way to educate yourself is by visiting your local diabetes education centre. These centres are located in communities across the country and provide education on healthy eating and physical activity for people living with diabetes. A quick Google search will help you locate one in your area. Centres are usually comprised of registered nurses and registered dietitians who will teach you how to monitor your blood glucose levels, how to safely take insulin and diabetes medication, how to manage your stress, and how to prevent complications. They will also help direct you to other local health care professionals such as Pedorthists, chiropodists, foot care nurses, eye doctors, psychologists and physical therapists.
How Can a Pedorthist Help?
Living with diabetes can be a daunting task, and education is only one component of managing your diabetes. The other key part of the puzzle is to utilize health care professionals who are on your team and who will help you live a healthy active lifestyle while reducing you chances of complications from diabetes.
Canadian Certified Pedorthists – C. Ped (C) – are integral members of a person’s health care team. They offer a unique skill set to help manage and prevent potential foot complications from diabetes, considering the majority of foot problems diagnosed in people with diabetes could be avoided through daily footcare and proper shoe selection.
To avoid the development of wounds or ulcers, it is vital that people living with diabetes visually examine their own feet daily, and, when purchasing shoes, have them professionally fitted rather than relying on how their feet ‘feel’. A Pedorthist can help with this by giving you a proper foot examination at least once per year and providing patient education on footwear and other foot care tips. Pedorthists can also specifically design custom orthotics and provide footwear modifications and custom-made orthopedic footwear. A foot examination by your local Pedorthist will include: an assessment of any structural abnormalities of the foot, such as feet that lean excessively to one side, causing friction between the side of the foot and the shoe; signs of neuropathy and vascular disease; and evidence of any ulcerations and/or infections.
Because many people with diabetes have reduced circulation or sensation in their feet and are not able to feel if something in their shoe or the shoe itself is irritating their foot, they often develop wounds and/or ulcers. Pedorthists can work in conjunction with other foot care specialists when treating diabetic foot ulcers. They can use specific materials and/or devices to reduce pressure and friction on the foot at the spot of the ulcer. Seeing a Pedorthist on a regular basis is important so they can adjust and change the padding and support based on how the ulcer is healing.
Once an ulcer is healed, Pedorthists can play an important role preventing recurrence by helping people transition back to appropriate footwear. They can design and build custom foot orthotics to protect and prevent future skin breakdown.
Seeing your Pedorthist on a regular basis is important; they will help you to stay active and on your feet while monitoring and identify warning signs of complications. To locate a Pedorthist near you, click here.
It’s not easy living with a chronic condition like diabetes. Remember to educate yourself and seek out help when you need it. That way your symptoms will be more manageable in the long run.
By Derek Gilmer, C. Ped (C)
Pedorthic Association of Canada – Diabetic Foot Care https://pedorthic.ca/foot-health/diabetes/
Canadian Journal of Diabetes, https://www.canadianjournalofdiabetes.com/
Journal of Vascular Surgery, www.jvascsurg.org
Diabetes Canada, https://www.diabetes.ca/