Taking Steps To Reduce Diabetes-Related Foot Problems
Education and Advocacy Here's what Canadians need to know to help avoid diabetic foot ulcers, which is one type of wound that is very common but often difficult to manage.
ost Canadians aren’t aware there are specialists in the field of preventing and treating wounds, but the Canadian Association of Wound Care (CAWC) continues to ensure patients have the information and specialists they need to keep their skin healthy and to heal hard-to-treat wounds.
Diabetic foot ulcers are one type of wound that is very common but often difficult to manage. These types of ulcers can be prevented, but when they occur and are not appropriately treated they can lead to disability, amputation, and even death. The good news is people with diabetes who are aware of their risk can incorporate daily habits that can prevent
injury — saving their limbs and lives.
Education and resources are available for health care professionals, patients, and their families alike to help manage diabetic foot ulcers and other types of wounds effectively. The PEP Talk: Diabetes, Healthy Feet and You program is an example of a CAWC peer-led, patient-focused program that provides supportive and educational sessions on diabetic foot care. It is delivered by people living with diabetes for people with diabetes and their family members. This setup gives patients an opportunity to ask clinical questions of the provider while learning from the lived experience of a peer educator.
Michelle’s Story: Living with Diabetic Foot Ulcers
Michelle was thrilled to have found the perfect pumps to match her mother-of-the-groom dress for her son’s wedding. Several guests commented on how beautiful they were as she danced the night away. The next day she noticed blisters on the toes of both feet. But, because they didn’t hurt, she stuck some bandages on and didn’t worry about them again. Two months later, at a regular visit with her doctor, she mentioned that her toes had still not healed. After an examination of her feet, the doctor told her she had a bone infection and might need to have several toes amputated to prevent the spread of the infection, which if left untreated, could endanger her life.
Michelle was horrified and couldn’t understand because her toes hadn’t hurt her at all. Her family doctor explained that because Michelle has diabetes, along with a condition that often accompanies diabetes called peripheral neuropathy, she had lost sensation in her feet. As a result, she had difficulty feeling pain or other sensations designed to alert her to foot problems. It was the reason she didn’t think to seek help for the damage that wasn’t healing. The doctor referred her to a diabetic foot clinic where she received care from specialists who were able to heal her wounds and prevent amputation.