What is a diabetic foot assessment?

What is a diabetic foot assessment? | acorn sports podiatry

Our latest blog let’s you know everything you can expect from a Diabetic Foot Assessment, written by Louise at Acorn Sports Podiatry

People with diabetes have a higher risk of foot health problems. A diabetic foot assessment is performed by a Podiatrist to check for any foot health problems. These findings are then compiled to make a treatment plan on how best to treat and advise on how you can monitor and take care of your foot health.

It is recommended that people with Diabetes should have a diabetic foot assessment once a year. Sometimes, more often if you are having any problems or concerns with your feet.

Why should I get a diabetic foot assessment?

Diabetes is the most common cause of lower limb amputations in the UK. Someone with diabetes is 20 times more likely to experience an amputation than someone without the condition (Diabetes.org,2018). When ulcers or foot health problems are found and treated early, it can aid in preventing serious complications. Prevention is key.

What will the diabetic foot assessment involve?

Your diabetic foot assessment will be performed by a Podiatrist. The assessment is non-invasive and will not be painful. The podiatrist will ask you some general health questions such as your regular medications and medical history, any previous foot health problems or things you are concerned with, and they will look at your footwear and the shape of your foot looking for any abnormalities.

The podiatrist will then undertake three further assessments.

Dermatological assessment: 

The skin of the foot is examined to look for any signs of damage such as cracks, blisters or cuts and callus patterns (areas of hard skin) The spaces between your toes will also be checked to check for breaks in the skin or any signs of fungal infections.

Your nails will also be examined for signs of thickening, fungal infections or other abnormalities.

Vascular assessments 

The blood flow to the foot is checked during a vascular assessment. Blood flow through the larger and smaller arteries of the foot are checked using a small device called a doppler. The podiatrist may also use their thumb to put light pressure to the end of your toe, we are looking for the skin to blanche (turn a pale colour) and then to see how long until it pinks up again after pressure is released. This is called capillary refill.

Neurological assessments

The nerves of the foot are monitored by a range of tests during a neurological assessment. A small thumb-sized device is held against the toe to check for vibration sensation. The podiatrist will ask if you are able to feel the light vibration sensation and then ask you to inform them when this stops. Another small device called a monofilament is used to check the foot’s sensitivity to pressure. Certain points are touched on each foot using the monofilament and the podiatrist will ask you to indicate when you feel this touch. 

After the Diabetic foot assessment, the Podiatrist will talk you through their findings and advise you best on ways you can self-care for your feet at home. We will discuss things such as footwear choices, how to take precautions against skin damage if you have some loss of feeling (neuropathy), the best creams for your skin if you have dry or cracked skin and we will give our recommendation on how often we think you should visit a podiatrist to keep your feet in the best condition. The podiatrist will also be happy to answer any of your questions or concerns relating to your foot health and sometimes, if required, can help to signpost you to other services if required.

Remember, healthy feet = happy feet.