Diabetic foot is one of the most common, costly, and severe complications of diabetes. Amputation in people with diabetes is 10 to 20 times more common than in people without diabetes and it is estimated that every 30 seconds a lower limb or part of a lower limb is lost somewhere in the world because of diabetes.
Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs when the pancreas is no longer able to make insulin, or when the body cannot make good use of the insulin it produces. Not being able to produce insulin or use it effectively leads to raised glucose levels in the blood (known as hyperglycaemia). Over the long-term high glucose levels are associated with damage to the body and failure of various organs and tissues and people with diabetes have an increased risk of developing several serious health problems including problems with the feet including:
Nerve Damage (Diabetic Neuropathy): diabetes can cause damage to the nerves throughout the body when blood glucose and blood pressure are too high. Among the most affected areas are the extremities, in particular the feet. Nerve damage in these areas is called peripheral neuropathy, and can lead to pain, tingling, and loss of feeling.
Loss of feeling is particularly important because it can allow injuries to go unnoticed, leading to serious infections and possible amputations. People with diabetes carry a risk of amputation that may be more than 25 times greater than that of people without diabetes. However, with comprehensive management, a large proportion of amputations related to diabetes can be prevented. Even when amputation takes place, the remaining leg and the person’s life can be saved by good follow-up care from a multidisciplinary foot team. People with diabetes should regularly examine their feet.