Unfortunately many people deal with the inconveniences of Diabetes on a daily basis, however fortunately they don’t need to do it alone. There are many health professionals that can help them, with just one of those important health professionals being Podiatrists. Podiatric care for people with Diabetes is critical, as with it, it helps improve patient outcomes and as well as helping reduce the costs associated with it (for the patient and for those industries funding medical services both governments and private health insurance).
The most well-known complication of Diabetes is of course ketoacidosis, which results from low blood sugar levels and is what is termed a short term complication. However, what most people wouldn’t be aware of, are the potential long term complications that can occur. These include minor conditions such as foot ulcers and leg and foot pain from poor circulation, but also more severe complications which can result in requiring foot or leg amputation. It is for these reasons that preventative foot and leg care for Diabetics is critical, as it alone can improve the outcomes for patients and help prevent the onset of these long term complications.
Recent research has been conducted which aimed to show how effective Podiatrists can be in both improving patient outcomes as well as reducing the health care cost associated with the condition. One study in the US found that patients who saw a podiatrist had a 28.8% lower risk of amputations and a 24.4% lower risk of becoming hospitalised compare to those who didn’t. A second study that examined patients who sought care from a podiatrist within a year of developing a second stage complication were only 31-77% as likely to undergo amputation compared to those utilising other health care professionals for their treatment. However, as is always said, prevention is better than intervention and that is where the potential true value of a Podiatrist lies. A third study which examined the incidence of ulcers and amputations in Diabetic patients determined that by podiatry professionals incorporating amputation prevention strategies into their treatment program with their patients, the could see practical reductions of 48 to 73% of occurrence of ulcers and 50 to 69% in reduction of amputations and better outcomes for their patients (for full details of the studies see the article at Podiatry Today
A Podiatrist knows Diabetes:
Podiatrists have been trained and educated to understand how diabetes can affect a patient as well as how to perform specialist foot examinations and risk assessments. Every time a patient with Diabetes visits a Podiatrist they need to undergo this examination and be assigned a risk classification, so that an accurate prevention and treatment plan can be designed with the best outcomes for the patient. There are three categories of risk assessment and each of them has a different treatment plan for the patient:
- Category 0: normal sensation and circulation, no deformities. Preventative patient education and yearly check-ups.
- Category 1: minimal to no protective sensation. Patients are considered for orthotics, prophylactic surgery and patient education. Follow up needs to be at more regular intervals, usually every 3 to 6 months.
- Category 2: patients with developed arterial disease and possible neuropathy. Examination and vascular consultation, follow ups every 2-3 months.
Category 3: The highest risk patients, with histories of ulcers or existing amputations. Follow us are needed at 1-2 month intervals.[/list-item]
Diabetes can be a serious disease, but with the right care the possibility of complications can be reduced. A Podiatrists place in Diabetic Care is often undervalued or even unknown to those with the disease, let alone to the general population. If you or someone you know has Diabetes insist that they have an assessment from a Podiatrist and follow their advice and preventive care. Most diabetics are used to managing their blood sugar levels and preventing short term complications, however only a trained Podiatrist in Diabetic Care can assess their risk for those long term complications and develop and prevention plan. All Podiatrists at Podiatry Clinics have this training and can provide the right advice and care for you or your family if dealing with Diabetes. We are here to help, use our knowledge and experience for your benefit.