Protecting feet is key to diabetes wellness

 In Opinion

by Jannel Somerville

As a chiropodist who has been practicing locally for the past 10 years, I have had the pleasure of meeting many members of the community and helping them get back on their feet. (See what I did there?)

Most folks are no stranger to a foot ailment at some point in their life, including minor foot pain, injuries, or complications of systemic disease. All of these can impact mobility, overall health, and ability to perform tasks of daily living.

With May being Foot Health Month, I wanted to take the opportunity to shed some light on footwear for those in the community who have diabetes. I suspect that most folks understand that there is a correlation between foot health and diabetes, but just because a person has been diagnosed with diabetes that does not mean they are going to have bad feet. It does mean that their feet will need a higher priority in self-care.

If I tracked the sentence I say most often when providing diabetes education it would be, “The best thing you can do for your feet with diabetes is don’t let anything happen to them in the first place.”

I must admit this gets me some groans and eye rolls. However, prevention truly is the first line of self-care and prevention of diabetes foot complications.

What people put on their feet is important; white socks make it easier to detect injury and using footwear, both in and outside the home, acts as a first line of defence against injury. Ideally, closed toe shoes with a back provides protection from stepping on things and protects toes from trauma. Although, the wrong footwear can be a source of injury, ill-fitting footwear can increase pressure, cause skin irritation, and increase the likelihood of injury. Shop for shoes later in the day if your feet swell; opt for shoes with adjustability (laces or Velcro) to provide a better fit. Make sure footwear is not only long enough, but wide and deep enough. Shopping in shoe stores staffed with people trained in fitting footwear is ideal, but as a consumer, you can get an idea of what your foot looks like in the shoe by removing the insole and standing on it. There should be a thumb width of space from the end of the longest toe and the end of the insole, and feet should not fall over the sides.

Get assessed and get help early. Diabetes foot exams should be completed at least once a year by a member of the diabetes management team. A simple assessment of the feet can determine if there are any potential risk factors for complications. Persistent sores, cracks, redness, heavy callus, or any discolouration require a timely visit to a member of the healthcare team.

Jannel Somerville is a chiropodist and owner of Stayner Foot Clinic and has been practicing in Stayner for ten years. She is passionate about care for the diabetes population and limb-loss prevention.

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