Foot problems are one of the leading causes of hospitalization for Canadians living with diabetes, and they’re a serious matter. According to Diabetes Canada, 85 percent of diabetes-related amputations are preceded by a foot ulcer and, compared to the general population, Canadian adults with diabetes are over 20 times more likely to undergo a lower limb amputation unrelated to a trauma.

If you’re living with diabetes, caring for your feet must become a daily priority.

“The majority of foot problems diagnosed in people with diabetes could have been avoided through daily foot care and proper shoe selection,” says Anthony Harper, Candian certified pedorthist and President of the Pedorthic Association of Canada. “Simple steps such as being vigilant about checking your feet for rubs, blisters, and ingrown toe nails can prevent a difficult-to-heal ulcer or infection from developing.”

Caring for your feet

Many people with diabetes have a reduced capacity for sensation in their feet and are unable to feel when a stone is caught in a sock or ill-fitting footwear is causing an irritation. Delayed treatment combined with poor circulation, a common side effect of diabetes which results in slow healing, can cause small wounds to quickly develop into a foot ulcer. “Diabetic foot ulcers can become very serious, very quickly but you can help prevent them with the right footwear and professional advice,” Harper says. 

In addition to carefully examining your feet every day for redness, abrasions, or any change in their appearance, Harper recommends wearing seamless diabetic socks as they help increase blood flow to the lower limbs, keep the feet warm, and limit sensation loss. He also notes it’s important to wear supportive footwear both indoors and outdoors so your feet are always protected.

“Foot orthotics and modified shoes play a vital role in both the prevention and treatment of diabetic foot ulcers, as they relieve pressure on sensitive areas of your feet,” says Harper. Consult a Canadian certified pedorthist to determine if you may benefit from custom foot orthotics or modified footwear.