Attending regular foot checks when you live with diabetes can feel daunting and perhaps overwhelming, especially if you are newly diagnosed. Our latest article for World Diabetes Day shares what you can expect during a foot check at your local surgery and why it’s so important to attend.
Why do I need an annual foot check?
Everyone with diabetes should have an annual foot check. Foot checks are part of your annual review, which means you should have it as part of your diabetes care with your GP surgery. This is because you’re more likely to have serious foot problems, which can lead to amputations if they are not addressed or treated early on.
What can I expect from a foot check at my GP surgery?
When you attend a foot check with your GP surgery, you’ll need to take off any dressings and footwear, including socks or tights. Your GP will examine your feet and test for numbness or changes in sensation with a special piece of equipment. They will also check your shoes to make sure they’re not causing any problems or harm to your feet. During your check up you’ll also be asked lots of questions about your feet and how you manage your diabetes, such as:
- Have you ever had any foot problems or wounds?
- Have you had any problems or noticed any changes like cuts, blisters, broken skin, corns?
- Have you had any pain or discomfort in your feet?
- How often do you check your feet?
- Do you have any cramp-like pains when walking?
Your GP surgery will tell you your results and how much you’re at risk of a foot problem. These can include:
- Low risk – no risk, or a callus without any other problem.
- Moderate risk – one sign of a foot problem, such as a loss of sensation or a change in foot shape.
- High risk – more than one sign of a foot problem, or a previous ulcer or amputation.
You will receive information that explains what your level of risk means and be guided on what to do next. If your feet are moderate or high, you’ll likely be referred to a foot specialist.
Your GP will also share a management or treatment plan with you, depending on your risk level, as it’s important to look after your feet at home too. Meanwhile, you can also check out this handy foot care guide from Diabetes UK to stay on track. Checking your feet everyday can prevent serious foot problems.
Why are annual foot checks important?
Raised blood glucose levels or blood sugar, can damage the sensation in your feet. This can also affect your circulation, which can lead to you getting less blood supply in your feet. A poor blood supply may lead to problems with cuts and sores healing. You may also suffer cramps and pain in your legs or feet. If you don’t get these foot problems treated at your GP surgery, they could lead to foot ulcers, infections and, at worst, amputations.
Diabetes has led to 169 amputations a week. That’s 24 amputations a day or 1 amputation every hour. Attending your annual foot check and knowing the signs to look out for could prevent this from happening. Most foot problems can be prevented with good, regular footcare.