If you have been diagnosed with diabetes you probably already know it's important to take extra care with your feet. Researchers from Sweden who have been studying diabetes foot complications since 2008 have some simple advice that can reduce the chances of diabetic foot amputations by half.
Regular checkups, inserts and podiatry visits important
According to background information from the authors, foot amputation related to diabetes occurs every 30 seconds worldwide.
Orthotic researchers at Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg have been studying how to prevent the sole of the foot from becoming overloaded that can lead to ulcer development and amputation.
For their study, they looked at 3 different types of foot inserts worn by study participants over a period of two years.
They found wearing a good pair of shoes - that is probably covered under most insurance plans and also Medicare - combined with shoe inserts - reduces the risk of foot ulcers by 50 percent, compared to going barefoot.
Only 0.9% of the participants developed new foot ulcers during the first year, compared to 3 to 8 percent reported in similar diabetic populations, according to the study authors.
The authors wrote in a press release, "Our conclusion at the end of one year is that all three types of inserts effectively distribute pressure under the sole in order to minimize the risk of ulcers."
Patients for the study were average 58 years old and had been diagnosed with diabetes for 12 years.
The findings that are scheduled to be presented at the International Conference on Prosthetics and Orthotics in Hyderabad, India Feb, 2013 also found only that only 67 percent of diabetics had seen a podiatrist, yet 83 percent had foot callouses that can lead to major problems.
Compared to the cost of trying to heal a diabetic foot ulcer, the researchers say properly fitted shoes; inserts and regular podiatry visits are sound investments that can relieve suffering.
The scientists are also working on a digital tool that can measure diabetes risk for developing a foot ulcer. The instrument can be used to prescribe shoes and insoles to keep the feet healthy and free from pressure sores.
Make sure your doctor checks your feet regularly for signs of neuropathy if you have diabetes. The condition can make it difficult to feel pain. Inspect our feet regularly for signs of cracks and breaks that can easily lead to infection.
The study shows adding an insert to shoes could lower rates of diabetic foot amputations, combined with attention to good shoes and care from a podiatrist. Diabetic socks are available that are also inexpensive. It's also important to keep your blood sugar under control. High blood sugar levels delay healing.
January 10, 2013
University of Gothenburg
The Sahlgrenska Academy
Image credit: CDC Public Health Library