How Does Diabetes Affect Your Feet?

Why Does Diabetes Affect Your Feet?

Diabetes is a group of different conditions characterised by the body being unable to convert blood glucose, (type of sugar in the blood), allowing blood sugar levels to vary greatly. 

Uncontrolled glucose builds up in the blood leading to high blood glucose levels which cause the health problems linked to diabetes. 

These health problems can cause immediate and long term damage to the body’s soft tissues, typically affecting the nerves and blood vessels. 

Often people with diabetes with uncontrolled glucose levels are at risk of developing serious foot conditions that can involve ulcerations which then can sometimes lead to amputation. 

A diagram showing the affects on different body parts of diabetes

Managing your blood sugar levels through a well-planned diet intake and daily exercise regime can reduce the risk of complications. 

Adding to this, podiatry care has been shown to be beneficial in monitoring the health of the foot in patients with diabetes. 

Diabetes can affect the sensation and blood flow in the feet. Podiatrist will monitor your foot health and can make a difference in reducing ulceration and amputation.

What are the Benefits of having a Podiatrist conduct a Diabetic Foot Check:

  • Check the blood flow to your feet using a doppler machine
  • Pressure measurements using force plate
  • Assess your protective sensation in your feet (nerves)
  • Check and treat toenails
  • Check and treat dryness, calluses, corns, cracks or infections
  • Assess the presence of and manage any wounds/ulcers
  • Annual assessments of your foot health
  • Footwear education
  • Education on preventing ulcerations and complications

Let the Experts Help Keep Your Feet Healthy

Our diabetic assessments involve assessing neurological and vascular status of the lower limb which then provides both the health professionals and the patients with a baseline assessment that can be used in comparison at the 6-12 month reviews. 

All diabetic patients are advised to utilise the Doppler Ultrasound every 12 months or more regularly if deemed to be a High Risk Diabetic patient. 

Our podiatrists can also use force plates to measure the forces through the feet to help offload high pressure areas.

Peripheral Neuropathy

This is the condition that results when the nerves carrying signals to and from the brain or spinal cord to the rest of the body have a reduction function or are damaged.

It is also one of the most dangerous conditions affecting the diabetic foot.

You may experience numbness, tingling or weakness, or a lack of balance.


A neuropathic ulcer on the bottom of the ball of a foot.

If you have peripheral neuropathy, a cut or wound on your foot not may be noticed due to the loss of sensation.

This can have serious health consequences as the wound is prone to infection, which can track up your leg and eventually infect your blood.


Unfortunately there are over 4,400 amputations in Australia each year linked to diabetes.

These are ALL preventable with early detection and care.

Vascular Insufficiency

The vascular or blood supply system is mainly broken up into two main systems:

Arterial Insufficiency

The arterial system which takes blood from the heart out to all the tissues in the body including the brain, organs, and of course the muscles of the body including the feet and legs. 

If there is not enough blood flowing into the feet and legs, the result can be a loss or death of tissue including muscle, skin and many other essential parts.

You may notice weakness in your legs or a lack of balance.

Most typically people will experience pain in their calves either when they are walking, when they are in bed, or when they are sitting at rest.


This pain is called claudication and is caused by a lack of blood supply to the calf muscles. It will stop many people from walking any further once the pain starts.

A podiatrist is performing a test of a patient's blood flow

The amount of distance you can walk without the pain stopping you is called your claudication distance. It can be helpful for you to know your claudication distance so that you can tell your podiatrist and doctor.

Venous Insufficiency

The Venous system drains the de-oxegenated blood (used blood) back to the heart which pumps it to the lungs to get more oxygen, before being pumped back out to all the tissues of the body again.

When the venous system in the legs is insufficient the result can be a pooling of blood in the feet, ankles and legs.

This will often present as swelling (oedema), a discolouration of the skin (often a purple to black colour), and dryness of the skin.

Venous insufficiency is a result of the collapsing of the valves in the veins returning the blood from the feet and legs.


Pain in the calf or claudication

It can also be contributed to decreased walking and in turn a lack of use of the calf muscles which act as the pump that send the venous (used) blood back to the heart.


For help managing your feet with diabetes contact the friendly staff at Dynamic Podiatry on 33518878 or book online using the button below.