High blood pressure and poor circulations are among the reasons that people diagnosed with diabetes develop a condition called the diabetic foot. Essentially, this condition results from diabetes complications.
According to Head of the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation [GPHC’]s Diabetic Foot Clinic, Dr. Kumar Sukhraj, diabetics by virtue of their diagnosis have an increased risk of ulcers and damage to the feet.
“There are many different foot complications that a diabetic can have,” said Dr. Sukhraj. He highlighted conditions such as Peripheral Artery Disease which causes decreased blood flow to the feet.
Diabetic patients are also predisposed to neuropathy at which point they will not be able to feel.
“Because you cannot sense pain or even sensation to touch, patients usually injure their feet. They do not know that there is an injury and because of that they develop ulcers and these sometimes are very difficult to heal and that sometimes lead to amputation,” said Dr. Sukhraj who has been heading up the GPHC Clinic for the past seven years.
Dr. Sukhraj, who was at the time speaking as a guest on Kaieteur Radio’s Your Health Matters yesterday, said diabetic patients have been known to develop other complications such as deformity of the joints, ingrown toe nails, fungal infections, dryness of the skin, calluses, bunions and corns.
“There are many other [diabetic-related] complications such as to the eyes, the kidneys and so on…,” said Dr. Sukhraj.
“When you manage diabetes, you just don’t manage diabetes alone, you have to manage the metabolic complications that are associated with diabetes.”
While screening is consistently encouraged to help reduce the risk of developing the diabetic foot, Dr. Sukhraj revealed that the sad state of affairs is that many diabetic patients seek treatment after being faced with complications.
“The problem people have is that they do not routinely screen for diabetic foot problems. Many of us sometimes visit the doctor and we don’t take our feet out from the shoe; sometimes the physician doesn’t ask for you to do that too but patients, when you are diabetic and you go to the doctor, take your feet out of your shoes,” Dr. Sukhraj said.
According to the diabetic specialist, a significant number of patients present with ulcers some of which do not heal.
He said that some patients who present with these are not even aware, at that point, that they are diabetic. “They just know that they have an ulcer on their foot and it is not getting better and then they show up at the Clinic and you screen them. Then you know that they are diabetic,” Sukhraj shared.
A number of patients, Dr. Sukhraj said too, also present with loss of sensation in their feet.
Given the daunting outcome of the diabetic foot such as painful ulcers or even worst, Dr. Sukhraj said that the importance of screening cannot be understated.
“You can screen early to prevent problems from happening that can lead to an amputation and more so to prevent problems from happening with the feet, you need to actually check your blood sugar and blood pressure also because if you screen and control that, that can prevent problems from happening.”
While care for the diabetic foot is readily available at the GPHC’s Diabetic Foot Clinic, Dr. Sukhraj advised that patients should first visit their health centres where they can obtain referral [to be seen at the GPHC].
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