Neglected feet can become a serious problem. So to0 can neglected patients or visitors using this website. Welcome back to all of you – feet as well as people!
Good time management has never been one of my strengths and over the past 2 months I have had a struggle to make time for this fascinating communication channel with my blog visitors as well as the core professional duties of my daily practice and some additional duties on behalf of the podiatry profession.
So, look out for replies to all the comments posted. Do keep posting comments – the warning is only there because one person posted a comment with too much personal detail – failing to realise that what you post EVERYBODY reads.
Anyway, what has been going on? The “chairpersonship!” of the SA Podiatry Association(SAPA) is proving to be an enormous task; fortunately the Executive are really dedicated people and have taken up the challenge of a new (& very different chair with enthusiasm). We are developing a new website that will be more interactive for podiatrists and public. You should see podiatry visibilty in future.
Podiatry has been featured on SABC 3 with Noleen, Talk Radio 702 with Redi, chai fm community radio in Johannesburg and I understand there is something in the November edition of ELLE magazine.
The University of Johannesburg has also been active, honouring the top achievers of 2008 – guess where the top podiatry student is – yes, you’re right, emigrated to Australia!
By the way, it’s not too late to apply for a place on the course for 2010. However, tomorrow sees the start of the exams – more time pressure as I am an examiner and moderator for a couple of subjects.
Then come some big events. First up is the birth of our second grandchild, due in 2 weeks, followed by a trip to Harrogate in the UK for the Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists Annual Conference – I am presenting a Poster on the work we have done at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, Paediatric Rheumatology clinic.
Meanwhile, in the practice recently a lady with a classic case of neglected feet was brought in by her daughter. The lady lives in Limpopo Province north of Johannesburg; she had no idea how she damaged her foot so badly that the tendons were showing through the top of her foot! She felt no pain either (undiagnosed neuropathy?).
X rays revealed the bones inside were infected and had collapsed to create a very fat, swollen shape. (Charcot neuroarthropathy). As there was no pain it had been left under the care of the patient and her GP. Basically because the lady had poor access to health care, but more importantly no insight into her diabetes what would you expect? A classic example of poor communication all round.
Talking of communication, look out for activities associated with World Diabetes Day on November 14th. Check what your local podiatrist or clinic is doing. There is a big event in KZN, with a SAPA presence, there are events in Cape Town too.
As the Southern Hemisphere is into “exams fever,” I’ll leave you with this thought from a postcard that I bought in Oxford some years back.
The more I study, the more I know.
The more I know, the more I forget.
The more I forget, the less I know.
So why study?
Every person who has diabetes, should have an annual foot examination. Feet, along with kidneys and eyes, form the “terrible triad” as it is sometimes called in medical circles; because people with diabetes can develop peripheral arterial disease or peripheral neuropathy(feet); nephropathy(kidneys) and retinopathy(eyes). I have spent the past two days conducting the Annual Foot Examination for people who attend the Potchefstroom Centre for Diabetes (CDE).
How many people with diabetes undergo this annual examination? Who knows? What is certain is that CDE members have to comply with rules which gives them access to all the basic health care professionals they need. (CDE is a Managed Health Care network of over 250 medical practices contracted to certain medical aid schemes).
The benefit of this annual examination is that patients, families and health carers know if the feet are at risk of developing futher complications associated with diabetes. The examination involves checking vascular, neurological, dermatological and orthopaedic status. Footwear is also checked and commented on. The International Consensus for managing the diabetic foot states that early identification of vascular insufficiency and referral to the vascular specialist does save many limbs.
Worldwide of course there is evidence that smoking damages your health, but even in the group at Potchefstroom there were smokers. All of whom had diminished circulation, plus the typical signs of cool feet, absent hair, discoloured pink/blue feet – especially when hanging over the side of the examination couch – and a cough.
Checking the state of sensation is vital for good diabetic foot health. The loss of sensation – neuropathy – is often an insidious process, not being fully appreciated by the patient until they are aware of “funny feelings” in their feet. Patients describe sensations of “pins and needles,” “shooting pains,” “ants running over my feet,” “I thought my sock was folded over under my foot, but it wasn’t,” “it feels like I’m walking on cotton wool” and many others. This could be the first step to damaging the foot and developing an ulcer.
People with diabetes get all the conditions that affect the rest of us. However, if not identified and managed properly an area of callus(which indicates increased local pressure) can easily develop into an ulcer. Various nail conditions are common amongst people with diabetes, especially fungal infections and they are difficult to get rid of.
They structure of any foot affects its function and so in the diabetic foot assessment we look at the alterations in shape that could cause load increases and potential blister or ulcer sites. In addition disorders such as gout are very often associated with diabetes.
Footwear is responsible for at least 50% of foot ulcers, so this is examined very carefully. Unfortunately, many people do not have suitable footwear, so it’s important to check it and give good advice.
Diabetes is a life-threatenting disease, but modern medicine has moved to early diagnosis and treatment and an important part of this is recognition by podiatrists of the signs in the feet. However for the person with diabetes one of the simplest acts to ensuring long life is to have your feet examined annually and know your foot status or risk.