Worldwide, diabetes-related complications result in the amputation of a lower limb every 30 seconds. And it’s estimated that people living with diabetes are 30 times more likely to have an amputation compared to the general population. If this isn’t awful enough, we know that amputation rates are set to rise, if current rates continue.
Arthritis is a leading cause of disability and literally means "pain within a joint." Arthritis is a term used broadly to refer to a number of different conditions. The causes of arthritis are too numerous to name here, but it is often associated with other types of illnesses and some forms are known to be hereditary.
Although there is no cure for arthritis, there are many treatment options available. It is important to seek help early so that treatment can begin as soon as possible. With treatment, people with arthritis are able to manage pain, stay active, and live fulfilling lives, often without surgery.
Common types of arthritis that may affect your foot and ankle:
Osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative or "wear and tear" arthritis, is a common problem for many people. Over a period of years, the smooth, gliding surface covering the ends of bones (cartilage) becomes worn and frayed. This results in inflammation, swelling, and pain in the joint.
Osteoarthritis progresses slowly and the pain and stiffness it causes worsens over time.
More than 90% of people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) develop symptoms in the foot and ankle over the course of the disease. Unlike osteoarthritis which follows a predictable pattern in certain joints, rheumatoid arthritis is a system-wide disease. It is an inflammatory disease where the patient's own immune system attacks and destroys cartilage. It may also affect various systems of the body such as the lungs, eyes, heart, and nervous system. Women are three to four times more likely to suffer from rheumatoid arthritis than are men.
Gout is a condition caused by the build-up of the salts of uric acid and is most commonly found in men. The foot’s big toe joint is a common location for this issue. Gout is extremely painful and can be debilitating if left untreated. Gout can be treated with medications, proper diet, and exercise. There are a number of different ways to effectively treat arthritis. Since the foot has so many joints, it is important to see a foot specialist when treating arthritis of the foot. There are number of different medicines that can be prescribed to help control the effects of arthritis. There are also a number of shoes and shoe insets that can help minimize how hard the foot has to work to walk and stand. A proper shoe and a good arch support can minimize how much the joints of the foot have to move to walk.)
Diabetes can adversely influence two systems that service the feet - the circulatory and nervous systems. Without adequate blood supply, skin and tissue becomes devitalised. If the supply of nutrients, oxygen and infection fighters is below par, the healing of injuries is much slower. Should numbness become a symptom of the change in the nerve supply, injury can occur without the patient being aware of it. When there is a significant lag between the event and discovery of injury, complications such as infection and further tissue destruction can occur.
Regular foot care by a qualified Podiatrist is the best way of safely dealing with all routine and complex foot issues that a diabetic faces. Biomechanical imbalances and gait anomalies are best dealt with as early as possible. Uneven wear patterns should be balanced before the overload areas are damaged.
Remember, with diabetes the best cure is prevention by early intervention.