One of the myths in Australian psyche is she’ll be right mate! In the case of diabetes, the response is it’s just a corn, it’s just a blister, oh yeah I did see a bit a blood on my sock yesterday, I just have not had the time to purchase some diabetic shoes.
A person with diabetes is at risk. The risk is greater if you have peripheral neuropathy which is partial or complete lack of sensation or feeling in the feet. An attitude of she’ll be right mate, cannot be accepted when it comes to diabetes and neuropathy.
At a recent conference held in Sydney Diabetes Australia CEO Professor Greg Johnson said, ͞there were around 4,400 amputations performed in Australian hospitals every year – and up to 85 per cent of these could be prevented. At Happy Feet Pedorthics we can advise you about diabetic shoes and shoes which are suitable if you have had an amputation. Following on Professor Johnson described the situation as a national tragedy, calling for more to be done to save limbs, lives and reduce hospital budgets.
The direct cost to the Australian health system of diabetes related health amputations is around $875 million dollars every year, and then there is the huge personal cost to the individual and their family.
Professor Johnson is calling on the Australian Government to implement a Diabetes Amputation Prevention Initiative to ensure systematic early detection of foot problems, and early treatment to prevent amputations.
We know at Happy Feet Pedorthics that diabetic shoes make a difference to the foot health of people with diabetes, with the shoe providing more comfort, less pain, more mobility, more safety, as well as a preventative measure for further complications.
In contrast to the she’ll be right mate, way of many in our community, Professor Johnson said, we need to ensure people with diabetes understand what they need to do to look after their feet, make sure they can access specialized foot health teams when they need to, and ensure we set targets across the health system to reduce amputations and measure our progress.
In contrast to she’ll be right mate! what can one do to prevent problems?
Especially if you have neuropathy, start with looking at your feet every day – the top and the bottoms, including looking and feeling in between the toes and around the heel area. If you cannot see the bottoms use a mirror and if you cannot manage on your own, ask someone to help! Continuing to contrast she’ll be right mate! know what to look for, particularly if you have partial or full neuropathy.
Top of the list is check for corns and calluses as they cause pressure and can lead to ulceration. Also look for:
- Cracks or breaks in the skin
- Whether the skin is soggy or dry
- Swelling in one leg or foot and not in the other
- Ingrown or sharp toenails
- Hot / cold spots or discolorations
- Something different which was not there yesterday!
Attending to your foot hygiene combats the she’ll be right mate! way
- Wash your feet every day with warm water and mild soap.
- Dry your feet and between your toes with a light-colored towel checking for blood or pus on the towel, and if there is then call your doctor immediately.
- Moisturize your feet with a urea based cream, but do not put the cream between your toes.
- If you have been advised that you can cut your own toe nails, do not cut them straight and not too short, using a file to rid of sharp edges.
The she’ll be right mate! way is out! What is in – is prevention! So:
- Walking is good for daily activities, along with activities such as an exercise bike, water aerobics or swimming.
- Protection of your feet is a must
- so, use soft surf shoes at the beach / pool,
- and remember to put block out cream on your feet
- and please do not walk barefoot on hot sand or concrete
- and in winter sit at least 3 metres from the heater and no hot water bottles
Clare Nelson C Ped CM AU
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository