Foot Problems in Diabetes

What is it?

Patients with diabetes are at high risk of foot problems (complications). At their most severe these include ulcers and infections. For some operations and even amputations will be required.

Why does it occur?

Diabetes can cause damage to the nerves and blood supply to the foot. Damaged nerves (neuropathy) may result in loss of sensation (numbness), dry or cracked skin and an abnormally shaped foot. Combined together these problems means that even minor damage to the foot can often go unnoticed and may cause major complications to develop rapidly such as ulcers.

What problems can it cause?

Ulcers cause problems in diabetes because they can become deep and infected. They may deteriorate very quickly and should be assessed urgently as soon as they develop by specialists in hospital.

People who have good sugar (diabetes) control are less likely to develop complications such as neuropathy. All patients with diabetes should inspect their feet regularly for problems and avoid walking barefoot and be assessed every year by their GP to check their circulation and nerve supply. Those who have neuropathy or impaired circulation should be assessed more regularly by a podiatrist or other expert in diabetes foot care.

Reasons for treatment?

Regular assessment for those with numb feet or poor circulation is helpful to prevent complications such as ulcers. Special footwear and removal of hard skin helps to prevent ulcers.

Patients who develop an ulcer should be assessed within 24 hours by experts in diabetes foot care in hospital. If they are caught early and treated by experts most ulcers will heal with regular intensive treatment.



The medical information provided here is intended solely for patients of the London & Surrey Vascular Clinic, it is general information only and should not be used as a substitute for personal advice received when consulting your own surgeon face-to-face.

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