If you have diabetes, you’re more likely to have serious foot problems and these can lead to amputations. Diabetes leads to over 160 amputations in the UK each week.
In most cases serious foot problems can be prevented. You can do this by checking your feet yourself every day, and having a foot check at least once a year that’s arranged by your GP practice. Everyone with diabetes has the right to an annual foot check, so make sure you get to yours – even if you’ve been referred to a specialist or clinic.
What happens at your foot check
It will usually be at your GP surgery as part of your annual diabetes review.
You’ll need to take off any dressings and footwear, including socks and tights. Your feet will be examined. Numbness or changes in sensation (also known as neuropathy) will be tested with a special piece of equipment. They’ll also check your shoes to make sure they’re not causing any problems.
You’ll also be asked lots of questions about your feet and how you manage your diabetes. Such as:
- Have you had any problems or noticed any changes like cuts, blisters, broken skin, corns?
- Have you ever had any foot problems or wounds?
- Have you had any pain or discomfort?
- How often do you check your feet?
- Do you have any cramp-like pains when walking?
- How well are you managing your diabetes?
Your risk of a foot problem
The healthcare professional will tell you your results and your risk level of foot problems. These include:
- Low – no risk, or a callus without any other problem.
- Moderate – one or more signs of foot problems such as a loss of sensation or a change in foot shape.
- High – one or more signs of foot problems such as a loss of sensation, or even previous a previous ulcer or amputation.
- Active – highly serious foot complications such as a spreading infection or ulcer.
You’ll get information that explains what your level of risk means, and be told what you need to do next. If your feet are moderate or high, you’ll be referred to the Foot Protection Service. If they’re active risk, you should be having treatment for it.
It’s important you’re told how to look after your feet at home – according to your level of risk. This should include a management or treatment plan. If you don’t get it, ask for it.
Make sure you get the details of who to contact if you have a foot problem before your next annual foot check. It’s always good to ask a healthcare professional if you’re worried.
To help you get the best out of your foot check, we’ve made a short guide on your annual foot check (PDF, 41KB) that explains what you should expect and give you a space to record results. You can also order a free copy from our shop.