Unless you are buying a pair of shoes or going for a pedicure you probably pay very little attention to your feet. However, if you are living with diabetes, taking your feet for granted can have very serious consequences.
"Diabetes can cause poor circulation and reduced sensation in the feet and lower limbs," says Peter Morcom, a Canadian Certified Pedorthist and president of the Pedorthic Association of Canada. "If you are unable to feel your feet properly, you may not be aware when callouses and blisters form. If these small injuries aren't cared for quickly and properly they can develop into serious wounds."
Our feet take a lot of pounding. A typical adult walks an average of 6.5 kilometres every day and spends about four hours standing. A small pebble or twig that goes unnoticed in a sock, can cause a nasty irritation by the end of the day. Poor circulation can compound the problem as it slows down the healing process so the small irritation can quickly become a significant wound.
If you are living with diabetes, Canadian Certified Pedorthists recommend the following tips to keep your feet healthy:
- Wash your feet every day with soap and warm water. Be careful not to soak them as it will cause your skin to dry and crack.
- Visually inspect your feet daily for any signs of redness, abrasions or change in appearance. If you have trouble bending, use a mirror so you can see the bottom of your feet and between your toes.
- Avoid using heat pads or hot water bottles. Reduced sensation makes it hard to tell if the pad or the water is too hot and you may burn your feet.
- Don't wear socks with heavy seams, as they can irritate your skin and limit blood flow to your feet and toes. Select moisture wicking socks that fit properly.
- Well fitting, supportive footwear is one of the best defences against foot injuries as it reduces the risk of irritations. Be sure to have your feet professionally measured as feet change in shape and size as we age.
- Wear shoes indoors as well as outdoors. Properly fitted supportive slippers or sandals are good choices. Avoid slip on, ill-fitting slippers.
- If you have been prescribed orthotics, wear them every day; they provide support, minimize stresses and reduce excessive friction to your feet. By ensuring even weight distribution, custom foot orthotics reduce high pressure areas that can form into callouses and ulcers.
- When possible purchase lace-up shoes or shoes with Velcro closures. These will enable you to adjust the snugness of the fit. Adjustable closures are particularly important if your feet swell.
- Schedule an annual appointment with your doctor for a foot check including loss of circulation, neuropathy and wounds. If your feet ever feel numb, have a sore that won't heal, hurt when you walk, or are red, irritated or swollen, consult your doctor immediately.
If you are living with diabetes, make a Canadian Certified Pedorthist part of your healthcare team. As foot orthotic and footwear experts, Canadian Certified Pedorthists can help keep your feet healthy so you can enjoy retirement to the fullest. Visit pedorthic.ca/find-a-pedorthist/ to find a Canadian Certified Pedorthist near you.
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