Hamad Medical Corporation’s (HMC) chairman of Internal Medicine, Prof. Abdul-Badi Abou-Samra has advised diabetics to take care of their feet, as proper foot care is crucial for successful diabetes management.
Each patient being treated for diabetes at HMC is scheduled for a complete foot exam at least once a year, and more frequently if the patient is experiencing any foot problems. During checkups, patients are educated to examine their own feet.
“Members of our specialist multidisciplinary care team instruct patients on the importance of checking their feet every day. Examining bare feet for red spots, cuts, swelling and blisters is an important part of successful diabetes management. If a patient is unable to see the bottoms of their own feet, they are instructed to use a mirror or to ask someone for help,” said professor Abou-Samra.
Diabetes can reduce blood supply to the feet and cause a loss of sensation known as peripheral neuropathy.
This can mean foot injuries do not heal well, and that diabetics may not notice if their foot is sore or injured. Diabetics are also at an increased risk for poor circulation and poor healing of foot ulcers, both conditions that contribute to high amputation rates in people with diabetes.
Foot exams test loss of feeling by checking touch, temperature, pain and other sensations. Patients who show signs of peripheral neuropathy are immediately referred to a podiatrist, specialist podiatry nurse or podiatry technician for a more comprehensive examination.
Professor Abou-Samra noted: “For diabetics, careful examination of the feet, at least once a day, is essential. Diabetic neuropathy doesn’t emerge overnight. It usually develops slowly and worsens over time.”
“Early identification of foot problems and early intervention to prevent problems from worsening can avert many amputations. Amputation is always the last resort. Good foot care, which includes daily self examinations, is an essential part of diabetes management,” he noted.
Individuals with diabetes are also advised to keep their feet clean and free from infection, wear shoes that fit well, avoid walking barefoot and most importantly to seek treatment from their physician or podiatrist if foot blisters or injuries do not heal quickly.
Professor Abou-Samra stressed the importance of treating ulcers urgently, within 24 hours.
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