If you have diabetes, chances are you were or will be asked by your doctor to see a podiatrist or a foot doctor. Hearing it may seem weird at first, but you should probably obey your GPs because your condition and your foot are connected more than you know.
But before we delve into the details of what they do to help anyone with diabetes, let’s understand the disease and its types first.
If you have Type 1 Diabetes, it means that you have very little to nothing-at-all production of insulin in your body(1). Your pancreas’ beta cells, which are responsible for insulin, may be damaged. People who have Diabetes Type 1 are advised to undergo insulin replacement therapy to restore their normal insulin levels.
Type 2 Diabetes, on the other hand, means that there’s merely a lack of insulin. The body produces low amounts of insulin, but there’s still some. This type of diabetes is often manageable by committing to a healthy diet and closely monitoring your lifestyle.
Lastly, Gestational Diabetes. This type often occurs in pregnant women. It happens when the hormones produced by the placenta (which are catalysts for the baby’s growth) prevent the insulin in normalizing the high sugar levels in the blood.
This type usually disappears after giving birth. But often, mommies who have had gestational diabetes have a higher chance of acquiring Type 2 diabetes later on. But like mentioned above, it is manageable through diet and exercise. Medication or insulin injections might also be needed, depending on the person.
Read: Diabetic Diet Plan
Why See A Podiatrist If You’re Diabetic
Diabetes can significantly affect your body in several and complex ways(2). For example, the spike in the amount of sugar within your bloodstream can affect the nerves and blood supply to your feet. Reduced blood flow causes loss of sensation and minimizes the healing ability of your feet—which can be problematic for you in the future.
This is where the foot doctors from Watsonia Podiatry step in (pun intended).
Blood Supply Assessment
As you already know, blood flow in your feet can be compromised when you have diabetes. The sugar or glucose molecules narrow your arteries by clogging up the walls, thus, reducing the blood flow. When this happens, the feet, which is the farthest from the heart, receives the least blood which is necessary for healing processes.
To know how damaged or compromised the arteries in your feet are, podiatrists assess them. They can know the blood flow in your feet just by looking at the skin colour and appearance of your foot. They can also determine whether the two main pulses in your feet(3) are healthy, week, regular, irregular, etc.
Read: Benefits of foam rolling
Checking The Sensation In Your Feet
Nerves allow us to move and feel sensations. They are also responsible for other bodily functions like heart rate and blood pressure.
And when you have diabetes, the myelin sheath that protects the nerve fibers absorbs more sugar than it should which causes them to deteriorate. Nerve fibers are then exposed and desensitized, making you lose the ability to feel vibrations, warmth and even pain.
When you can’t feel, you won’t know immediately when you’re injured or at least hurt. This could potentially lead to more damages and infections since you won’t get proper treatment because you won’t feel that there’s already something wrong with your feet.
That’s why you need to see a podiatrist. They will check and tell you whether there’s something on your feet that needs treatment. Through various tests, they will also provide you with a detailed assessment of whether there’s something to be worried about right now or shortly.
Assessing The Health of Your Skin and Nails
Your toe skin and nails are only some of the many beneficiaries of an adequate blood supply in the body. Since the skin requires blood to keep its health and integrity, it is one of the body’s many organs that must be assessed for potential treatment and maintenance.
With the help of podiatrists, your skin is checked whether you have wounds or cuts that may be infected. They also check whether your feet have calluses, warts, corns, or lesions that need to be taken care of. The nails are also checked for fungal infections and ingrown.
Any damage to your skin and nails coupled with reduced healing ability can be problematic if not treated.
Seeing a podiatrist regularly is only one of the many ways to keep your feet healthy(4) when you have diabetes. That’s why next time, when your doctor asks you to see a foot doctor, do what he or she says.
Aside from regular appointments, you can also check your feet daily. If you notice anything that is out of the ordinary, contact your podiatrist right away.