Feet

People with diabetes are at much greater risk of developing problems with their feet, due to the damage raised blood sugars can cause to sensation and circulation. If left untreated, these problems can cause foot ulcers and infections and, at worst, may lead to amputations. However, most foot problems are preventable with good, regular foot care. So we urge you to keep an eye on your feet at home and make sure that you get a quality foot check from a properly trained person at least once a year.

What is a foot attack?

If you have been told you are at risk of developing foot problems, you could have a foot attack. It’s important that you know how to spot a foot attack and what you need to do at home to keep your feet problem-free. 

A foot attack is an injury to the foot (or feet) of someone with diabetes who has reduced feeling or reduced blood circulation to their feet.

It is a medical emergency that needs attention.

It often starts as a small break in the skin and can quickly develop into a foot ulcer.  It can start from something as small as a blister that forms because you didn’t feel your shoe rubbing, a small cut or wound from standing on a sharp object.  You may not have felt the pain because you have lost sensation in your feet.

What are the danger signs?

  • Is your foot red, warm or swollen?
  • Is there a break in the skin or any discharge (or oozing) onto your socks or stockings?
  • Do you feel unwell?

Remember you may not experience pain even with a visible wound. If your sight is not good make sure someone else looks at your feet every day.

What to do if you’re having a foot attack

Contact your GP or Foot Protection Service immediately.

If they are not available and there is no sign of healing after one day, go to your nearest out-of-hours healthcare service or your A&E department.

Treatment for a foot attack

  • You will probably need a course of antibiotics and your foot will probably be covered with a dressing
  • You should rest and avoid unnecessary standing or walking
  • Your diabetes treatment may be changed to maximise the chances of healing

Foot protection and specialist podiatry services

If your feet are at moderate or high risk you’ll be referred to a foot protection service or specialist podiatrist. This will mean that you can get expert advice about how to look after your feet and prevent any problems from getting worse.

What will the foot specialists do?

They will tell you your level of risk.

Together, you will agree a personalised care plan. This may involve treatment, advice about appropriate footwear and how to look after your feet.

You will be seen every 1-3 months and this will be arranged through the local podiatry service.

These appointments are additional to your annual diabetes foot check.

More information

You can order a free leaflet with more information about the signs and symptoms of a foot attack from our shop.