The impairment of normal activities of the nerves due to high blood glucose, is known as diabetic neuropathy, and it is a frequent complication of diabetes. The most common form of diabetic neuropathy affects the outer nerves of the limbs, particularly those of feet. This causes sensory function alterations such as progressive numbness, which facilitates the development of ulcers (diabetic foot).
Diabetic foot is one of the most common, costly, and severe complications of diabetes. When a person living with diabetes (PwD) develops foot ulcers, these are susceptible to infections that can cause tissue destruction or gangrene requiring major amputation. Chronic ulcers and amputations are not only costly, but also result in a significant reduction in quality of life and increase the risk of early death.
Because of the quick progression from an initial “scratch” to gangrene, urgent referrals and timely care interventions are essential for avoiding unnecessary delays leading to major amputations. It is therefore crucial to avoid the development of ulcers, or to ensure that these are treated in time and optimally.
This makes it critical for PwD to be educated about foot self-care so to seek care on time, and healthcare professionals should be able to make a diagnosis and the appropriate referral on time.
Resources on diabetic foot
- IDF Clinical Practice Recommendations on the Diabetic Foot
- Diabetic Foot Screening Pocket Chart
- IDF Atlas Reports: Diabetes foot-related complications