The Diabetic Foot

Individuals with Diabetes Mellitus are at risk of developing foot related problems, in particular, foot infection. These individuals are predisposed to development of foot infections due to vascular and/or neurological compromise.


This, in combination with local trauma or pressure to an area on the foot, may result in various diabetic foot infections ranging from superficial cellulitis (skin infection) to osteomyelitis (bone infection).



Diabetic Foot Ulceration

Some people with diabetes develop foot ulcers. A foot ulcer is prone to severe infection, which may result in long-term management and ongoing screening.



Risk Factors for Development of Diabetic Foot Ulceration:

  • Poor foot care technique and treatment.
  • Diabetic Neuropathy- reduced sensation to your feet
  • Peripheral Vascular Disease- reduced blood supply to your feet
    • Smoking
    • Sedentary lifestyle
    • High cholesterol or blood pressure
  • History of foot ulceration
  • Ill fitting footwear



Diabetic Neuropathy

Diabetic neuropathy is damage to the nerves in people with diabetes. The mechanism of damage is not entirely clear, however a relationship exists between uncontrolled, elevated blood sugar levels and development of neuropathy.


The most common form of neuropathy affecting the foot is sensory  neuropathy. This causes many foot problems, as individuals may not be able to detect trauma, such as a sharp object in a shoe, which may cause an infected diabetic wound.



Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD)

PVD involves narrowing of the lumen (inside lining) of peripheral arteries, causing a reduction in circulation to the areas outside of the heart and brain. The most commonly affected areas are the legs and feet.


PVD can occur in individuals without diabetes, however it is much more common in those with the condition. Poor circulation directly implicates the diabetic foot, as skin with a poor blood supply does not heal as well as normal, and is more likely to be damaged.