Does your family doctor take a good look at your feet when you go for a visit? If you see other health care providers, do they also examine your feet and test your foot sensation?
During appointments, mention that you have diabetes and ask that your feet be checked. When you enter an examination room or when a homecare nurse comes to visit, remove your shoes as a reminder to look at your feet.
Good blood glucose control is the starting point in preventing foot injury and any other complication related to diabetes,
To protect your feet, first look at them carefully. You may need a mirror to see the bottom of your feet. Has your foot changed shape? Do you feel pins and needles or numbness in your feet? These early signs of diabetic neuropathy (change in sensation) indicate that you should have your sensation tested. A podiatrist (foot care specialist), foot care nurse or family doctor can do this for you. Lack of sensation confirms that you are at greater risk of injury.
If you do find numb areas, simple actions can help protect your feet.
If the shape of your feet has changed, have your shoes fitted by a professional. Over-the-counter insoles are not a good idea. If they do not fit properly, they can cause blisters.
Canadian Diabetes Association
The Canadian Association of Wound Care
Lower Extremity Amputation Prevention (LEAP)
Foot Care for a Lifetime: A Comprehensive Guide for Care of the Insensitive Foot
Mid-afternoon is the best time to be fitted. At this time of day, your feet will be slightly swollen and at their largest. You will be less likely to buy shoes that will pinch. Correct measurements are important. Your shoes should be long enough that your toes do not press against the end of the shoe. As well, leave enough room (depth) so your toes do not rub against the top of the shoe. Over time, people who have diabetes often find that their toes begin to curl upward. Be sure that the toe area of your shoe allows extra space.
If you need special shoes, look in your phone book or the Internet for suppliers. Phone ahead to be sure a pedorthist or orthotist in the store can professionally fit the shoes. Some provinces have government programs that offer this service at a subsidized rate. Ask your doctor, pharmacist or diabetes care provider for more information, or look on your provincial health department website.
A professional foot care provider can help you with foot care, especially if your eyesight is poor.
Look after your toenails. Regular trimming reduces the chance of injury. Trim nails straight across to reduce the risk of ingrown toenails. If your toenails are thick, your care provider can use the right tools to cut your nails without having to soften them in water first.
Do not soak your feet. This dries the skin and increases the possibility of skin cracks, especially at the heels.
A number of nursing agencies and service groups offer professional nail care. Check your local phone listing or the Internet for nursing agencies or ask your diabetes care provider.
Looking at your feet is the most important thing you can do to care for them. Remember, you are your own first line of defense against injury. Have any sores, cuts or cracks in your feet checked as quickly as possible by a health care professional.