An official at Hamad Medical Corporation is reminding diabetics about the importance of inspecting their feet every day, adding that annual check-up with the podiatry clinic is an important part of managing diabetes.
Dr Talal Khader Talal, Head of Podiatric Services at HMC, said:
Inspecting your feet every day, and seeking care early if you do get a foot injury, is essential for good diabetes management. Make sure your healthcare team checks your feet at least once a year – more often if you have foot problems. Your physician can also explain the do’s and don’ts of good foot care.’
Hamad General Hospital’s Podiatry Clinic sees around 70 patients a day, including a large number of diabetics. According to Dr Talal, most patients can prevent serious foot problems by following simple steps such as examining their bare feet daily, remaining physically active, avoiding smoking and not crossing their legs for long periods of time. Diabetics are also advised to wear protective shoes that are comfortable and cover the whole foot. Heels and sandals should be avoided since they expose the foot and don’t provide a level platform, making one more susceptible to injury.
Dr Talal added:
At the Podiatry Clinic, we advise our patients to check their feet daily for cuts, sores, red spots, swelling or infected toenails. If patients are unable to see the bottom of their feet, we advise them to use a mirror, or to have a family member complete the check-up. Any small cut or wound can lead to serious infections and patients might not notice the injury or feel any discomfort from the wound, leaving it to worsen. This makes future treatment much more difficult for the patient. The Podiatry Clinic can also help patients with special requirements, such as the need for protective shoes or shoes that will address specific deformities.’
Diabetes damages the small blood vessels that feed the nerves in the extremities, particularly in the legs and feet. This leads to a loss of sensation, which leaves diabetics with a condition called diabetic neuropathy. Diabetic neuropathy can prevent an individual from sensing cuts, blisters or abrasions on their feet. As a result, the individual may continue to wear a shoe that is rubbing or won’t be aware that they should clean and treat a cut or blister. Once a wound forms, it is often slow to heal due to damage to the blood vessels.
Nerve damage can also create deformities of the foot that can be painful. Dr Talal explains that treatment can vary from using special insoles to support the foot’s form to surgeries that fix the bone structure.
Regular podiatric check-ups from 15 years after diagnosis with Type 1 diabetes and from five years after diagnosis with Type 2 diabetes are recommended. However, patients are urged to seek immediate care if they injure their feet.
Dr Talal said:
If patients get injured they should seek treatment on the same day. Wound healing is slow for diabetic patients and we can help them to recover in a suitable way, preventing any possible complications from the injury.’
Dr Talal is Chair and Head of the Scientific Committee for the Third Gulf Diabetic Foot Conference, taking place in Doha from 3 – 4 March 2017. The Conference will bring together over 500 delegates, including key opinion leaders, wound care specialists, community nurses, foot surgeons, physiotherapists and allied health staff from throughout the region.
For more information on the Third Gulf Diabetic Foot Conference, visit hamad.qa/EN/All-Events/3-GDFC.
Author: Lubuna Jeffin