Information for the public
Diabetic foot problems
People with diabetes have too much sugar (glucose) in their blood. There are 2 main types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2. In type 1 diabetes, the body can't make insulin – insulin is the hormone that controls how much glucose is in the blood. In type 2 diabetes, the body doesn't produce enough insulin, so blood glucose levels become too high.
Diabetes has lots of effects on the body. It can affect blood flow, particularly in the feet and legs. It can also damage nerves, causing pain or uncomfortable tingling and numbness or complete loss of feeling in the feet and legs.
Blood flow problems and nerve problems can mean that:
you might not notice if you hurt your feet or get any sores or ulcers on them (an ulcer is a patch of broken skin)
any wounds on your feet won't heal as quickly or as well as they used to or, in some cases, won't heal at all
the bones in your feet may become weak and change the shape of the foot or ankle (Charcot arthropathy)
you may find it difficult to stand or walk, which may affect your lifestyle, employment, social life and even routine tasks such as cutting your toenails.
In very extreme cases the tissues in the feet may die (gangrene). If this happens, it may be necessary to remove (amputate) toes, part of the foot or even the lower leg.
Prevention is the best approach when it comes to foot care for people with diabetes. But if problems do happen, they are less likely to become severe if dealt with quickly.
Keeping your diabetes under control is an important part of foot care. By understanding your diabetes better, you'll be more able to manage it successfully. There is a lot you can do to keep your diabetes under control, so ask for more information and advice.