TABLE OF CONTENT
The five key elements that underpin efforts to prevent diabetic foot ulcer:
- Identifying the at-risk foot
- Regularly inspecting and examining the at-risk foot
- Ensuring routine wearing of appropriate footwear
- Educating the patient, family and healthcare professionals
Manydiabetic foot ulcer cases…1
Up to85%of lower extremity amputations…2
HOW CAN I IDENTIFY THE AT-RISK FOOT?
Early identification of at risk patients is key to effectively prevent diabetic foot complications
There are two major risk factors for patients with diabetes :
These need to be identified and monitored appropriately to minimise the risk of patients with diabetes developing a Diabetic Foot Ulcer. A daily foot check will help spot any foot problems.
Damage to the nerves (LOPS)
might be shown by:
- Tingling sensation or Pins and Needles
- Pain (burning)
- Less sweaty feet
- Changes in the colour of the feet
- Changes in the shape of the feet
- Blisters and cuts
- Loss of feeling in the feet or legs
Damage to the blood supply
might be shown by:
- Cramp in the calves (at rest or when walking)
- Shiny smooth skin
- Loss of hair on the legs and feet
- Cold, pale feet
- Changes in the skin colour of the feet
- Wounds or sores that do not heal
- Pain in the foot or feet
- Swollen feet
It is key to identify if these risk factors are present in your patients with diabetes
HOW CAN I IDENTIFY LOPS AND PAD?
How to identify Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)
There are two major foot pulses:
the anterior tibial artery on the dorsum of the foot, and the posterior tibial artery behind the medium maleolus. If you can not palpate one of the pulses this indicates that your patient probably has PAD.
In that case, you should plan a vascular assessment to confirm it.
Depending on the presence of these risk factors we can classify the patients by level of risk and take the appropriate preventative steps.
what is my patient’s level of risk ?
There is an international classification to categorise the level of risk for your patients.
In addition, it is extremely important to regularly assess the level of risk for each patient with diabetes. The criteria are very simple: LOPS, PAD, foot deformities, past history of foot ulceration or lower-extremity amputation, end-stage renal disease.
This classification will provide you with the monitoring frequency required for each case, and the recommended specialist level of care.
No LOPS and No PAD
Once a year
LOPS or PAD
Once every 6-12 months
General practitioner, podiatrist, diabetes nurse
LOPS + PAD or
LOPS + footdeformity or
PAD + footdeformity
Once every 3-6 months
Endocrinologist, surgeon (general, orthopedic or foot), vascular specialist, podiatrist, diabetes nurse
LOPS or PAD and one or more of the following :
- History of a foot ulcer
- A lower-extremity amputation (minor or major)
- End-stage renal disease
Once every 1-3 months
Multi-disciplinary team specialised in diabetic foot care
In addition to regular risk assessment, it is key to look at the feet of your diabetes patient at each consultation.
Make the most of each consultation with your patients by educating them on diabetic foot prevention.
There are 4 steps you can teach your patients to keep their feet safe and prevent foot ulceration
Checking that their blood glucose is within the normal range throughout the day is the first step to prevent ulceration. Keeping their blood glucose within target will help your patients prevent damage to their feet and can stop things getting worse.
Daily foot care
Your patients with diabetes should wash their feet daily in lukewarm, but not too hot water, and dry them properly. Remind them that they have to dry between their toes too. Using moisturising cream will help them keep their skin soft, but they should not apply it between their toes as it may make the skin too moist.
When it comes to footwear, this is what your patients with diabetes should know:
- Avoid walking around barefoot, in socks, or in thin-soled standard slippers.
- Don’t wear tight or knee-high socks.
- Wear properly fitting footwear: not too tight or too loose.The inside of the shoe should be 1-2 cm longer than the foot, allowing room for feet to breathe. The internal width should equal the width of the widest part of the foot, and the height should allow enough room for all the toes. Avoid shoes that are pointed at the ends.
- Examine their shoes, socks and stockings for damage each time before putting them on. Cracks and exposed nails in shoes, and small stones caught in footwear can irritate and damage their skin.
Daily foot check
Patients with diabetes should check their feet every day for cuts, blisters and wounds. Whether they are about to put their socks on, or have taken them off before bed, they should have a good look. They should be reminded to consult a healthcare professional as soon as possible if they notice any changes . If they struggle to lift their feet up to undertake a foot check, using a mirror will help them to see the soles of their feet. If this is too hard, they could try to get someone else to check it for them. They can also ask their nurse or healthcare professional to do it during their regular checkups.
DID YOU KNOW?
Remind your patients with diabetes that they should have a foot check conducted by a healthcare professional at least once a year. This can be organised through their GP or a podiatrist.
When it comes to diabetic foot, every day counts