Despite its global stereotype as a country in which good health is the norm, Australians haven’t been immune to the worldwide rise of Diabetes. Commenting on a UK study on foot health in diabetics published by the Journal of Diabetic Medicine, Sydney podiatrist, Mark Lin, observes that its findings are likely to be true for Australia too.
In the study, it was observed that lack of foot health awareness in diabetics was relatively common, and that medical doctors were often slow to refer patients to podiatrists for treatment. Sadly, it concludes that the resulting delays in attention to foot health could lead to amputation.
“It has also been found that diabetics have a high mortality rate after amputation,” adds Lin. “It’s really an unfortunate state of affairs, because attention to foot health can prevent this outcome.”
Multidisciplinary Care a Must for Diabetics
Most people know that they need to consult general practitioners about their diabetes. In cases where controlling blood sugar is difficult, an endocrinologist is sometimes necessary. But what few people realise is that dieticians, eye doctors, and podiatrists also have a role to play.
“Many diabetics are aware that they need to monitor their feet, but they don’t really know what to look for,” says Lin. “Or, they may spot a problem, decide that it’s minor, and neglect it until it is a very serious problem indeed. In a best-case scenario, diabetics should visit a podiatrist at regular intervals to have their feet assessed and to receive treatment when necessary.”
Education on Maintaining Proper Foot Health Necessary for Diabetics
Not knowing how to avert foot problems, and how to recognise warning signs was also a risk for diabetics that was noted in the study identifying barriers to foot care. “A podiatrist is a foot and lower limb specialist,” says Lin, “and therefore he or she is well-equipped with the knowledge necessary to help diabetics in caring for their feet.”
“It must be remembered that poor circulation and neuropathy make diabetics vulnerable to foot health issues. Knowing when they should reach out for help could avert complications that could ultimately lead to amputation. Part of the podiatrist’s task is educating patients on what to look out for between consultations to maintain good foot health. That knowledge could save a lower limb.”
When a Diabetic Should Consult a Podiatrist
Mark believes that podiatrist should be among the first people to consult after receiving a diabetes diagnosis. “The goal is to keep you healthy, keep you active, and help you to live longer,” he explains. “Because foot health is so important in diabetes, it’s wise to inform yourself of the foot care program you should be following. A podiatrist can also help with injury prevention, assess the extent of neurological damage, and apply a treatment program that will make you less prone to injury. Podiatrists are also able to recommend exercises that improve the blood flow to the lower limbs and feet. This can reduce the damage caused by poor circulation and delay or avert the onset of foot-related problems.”
It all comes back to awareness of the podiatrist’s role in protecting the health of diabetics, and as the UK study concludes, both patients and their doctors are often slow to recognise this. Podiatry treatments for diabetics reduce pain, reduce the incidence of injuries, help diabetics to enjoy better quality of life, and in some instances, that can contribute to a longer life, too.
The Footwork Clinic, situated in Chatswood on Sydney’s North Shore and Sydney CBD, is there to help should you have an injury or condition that you think would benefit from heat or ice treatment. They offer advanced manual therapies and a holistic and corrective care approach, with a proven track record of success in resolving acute and chronic conditions, and they will gladly offer advice to get you on the road to recovery as soon as possible.
For further information, visit The Footwork Clinic – Leading Sports, Podiatry, Foot And Lower Limb Corrective Services to book online, or call Mark Lin or his friendly team on +61 2 9131 6891.
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The information contained in this guide is provided in good faith and is not intended to be nor is it to be used as a substitute for any sort of professional, medical or podiatric advice. An accurate diagnosis can only be made following personal consultation with a podiatrist. Any users should always seek the advice of their podiatrist, or other qualified healthcare providers before commencing any treatment.
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