Foot exams are important for individuals who want to avoid complications associated with a diabetic foot. A diabetic foot exam is a close inspection of the foot and is best performed by a foot and ankle doctor, or podiatrist. However, it doesn’t mean diabetics cannot monitor their foot health at home. In fact, a combination of self-checks and professional assessmentsis an excellent approach to foot health.
In this article, we talk about how you can perform a self-check at home and how a doctor performs a foot exam and why it is superior. We also recommend where you can go in North Dakota for diabetic foot exams.
How To Perform Self-Checks at Home
As a diabetic, you should perform a daily examination of your feet. This will help you become familiar with every inch of your feet and easily detect any abnormalities. Remember to consult your doctor for guidance on performing self-checks.
Here are some useful tips:
- Perform a visual inspection of your feet and check for the following:
- Check for reduced sensation in your feet, which may indicate neuropathy, using the Ipswich Touch Test. Patients can do this themselves with great accuracy.
- Close your eyes and relax.
- Using a soft nylon monofilament (10g), start at the base of the big toe and gently apply pressure to the skin until the filament bends.
- Hold the filament for approximately 1-2 seconds before releasing.
- Repeat this process on each of the following areas: the tip of the big toe, the base of the little toe, the top of the foot halfway between the base of the first and second toes, and the bottom of the foot halfway between the base of the first and second toes.
- Remember not to press too hard. If you are unable to feel the filament in one or more locations, it may indicate a loss of protective sensation and potential neuropathy.
- You can also check your feet for temperature sensitivity using hot and cold water.
- Start by preparing two separate bowls of water – one with warm (not hot) water and the other with cold water.
- Begin the test by immersing your unaffected foot into the warm water and the other foot into the cold water for approximately 1-2 minutes. Be cautious not to burn or freeze your skin by ensuring that the water temperatures are comfortable and safe.
- After the allotted time, remove your feet from the water and dry them thoroughly.
- Now, place both feet on a neutral surface and compare the sensations. Are you able to sense the temperature changes?
- Caring for your feet includes your nails. Trim your nails regularly and shape them straight to avoid ingrown toenails.
- Check your footwear for the proper fit and comfort. Any signs of wearing and damage could mean you need to replace your shoes.
Professional Foot Assessments
A foot exam conducted by a podiatrist is highly superior due to their specialized knowledge and expertise in diabetic foot management. Podiatrists undergo extensive training in the diagnosis and treatment of diabetic foot conditions – they even provide preventive care, with their unique understanding of foot complications that can arise from diabetes.
During a diabetic foot exam, the doctor can check for the following:
- Nerve damage
- Blood flow
- Skin changes
- Overall foot structure such as deformities
The doctor can perform the following:
- Monofilament Test – A thin nylon filament is used to assess the sensitivity of specific areas on the foot. This helps identify loss of protective sensation due to peripheral neuropathy.
- Vascular Assessment – Professionals may measure blood flow in the feet using non-invasive tests such as the ankle-brachial index (ABI) or Doppler ultrasound to evaluate circulation.
- Radiological Imaging – X-rays or other imaging techniques may be employed to detect bone abnormalities or underlying conditions.
- Gait/Foot Analysis – Observation of your walking pattern and foot mechanics can provide information about underlying issues that can lead to diabetic foot complications. For example, structural foot deformities, such as bunions and hammertoes, can increase the risk of developing foot ulcers, as they alter the alignment and distribution of pressure on the foot.
Why Have a Professional Diabetic Foot Exam?
While self-checks at home are helpful, individuals with diabetes are recommended regular diabetic foot exams conducted by podiatrist due to the following advantages:
#1 Expertise – Podiatrists have specialized knowledge and experience in identifying foot-related complications associated with diabetes.
#2 Diagnostic Accuracy – Foot and ankle doctors have access to advanced tools and techniques that can detect subtle changes in the foot and assess overall foot health.
#3 Early Detection – Professional assessments can identify potential problems at an early stage, allowing for timely intervention and preventive measures.
#4 Individualized Care – Podiatrists can tailor treatment plans based on their evaluation, considering the specific needs and risks of each patient.
#5 Holistic Approach – Professional assessments not only focus on foot examination but also consider the patient’s overall health and lifestyle factors that may impact foot health.
Diabetic Foot Care in North Dakota
The Bone & Joint Center provides the highest quality and most comprehensive diabetic foot exams for our patients. Our podiatry department is led by Dr. Chad B. Carlson, a board-certified and fellowship-trained foot and ankle surgeon with a reputation for outstanding patient-centric care.
To schedule an appointment for a diabetic foot exam, call our office today at (701) 946-7400 / (866) 900-8650 or use our online request form. Our caring team of specialists can help you take better care of your feet and avoid complications.