Diabetic Foot: How Temperature Monitoring Can Save Your Feet
August 28, 2017
For individuals with diabetes, daily visual foot checks are not enough to prevent serious physical complications. In fact, every 20 seconds, a leg is lost to diabetes around the world. Why? This is due to a condition known as diabetic peripheral neuropathy. Between 60-70% of people with diabetes develop neuropathy, a nerve disorder that eventually interferes with the body’s ability to feel pain and react to injuries. The nerve damage associated with neuropathy can happen in the feet, toes, fingers, and hands. A person affected may experience tingling, stabbing pains, or total loss of sensation.
When a person experiences abnormal sensations in their feet or toes, an injury can go unnoticed. What once was a small nick or cut from an ingrown toenail can easily develop into a foot ulcer, gangrene or even an amputation.
Standard therapies for foot problems like therapeutic footwear, diabetic foot education, and regular foot exams are not the best way to detect problems earlier. However, temperature monitoring, where you look at the temperature on different sites of the foot over a period of time, is clinically proven to find injuries early and prevent up to 87% of foot ulcers when compared to standard therapies.
Don’t Lose a Limb - Detect Injuries and Foot Ulcers Earlier
People living with diabetes often suffer from foot ulcers and amputations, because their normal warning system for injuries no longer works due to conditions like diabetic peripheral neuropathy. When a person has neuropathy, they may be unable to feel pain in their feet, toes, hands or fingers at all.They have lost the body’s natural immune response to when something is wrong.
For example, if a person wears shoes that are too small or poor fitting and the shoe rubs against their feet they may loosen or remove their shoe to prevent irritation, pain, and rubbing. However, for a person with neuropathy, they may not feel the rubbing, irritation, or pain associated with a poorly fitting shoe. This can quickly develop into a wound.
For someone without diabetes a small cut or inflamed area may just go away and heal on its own, but, for someone with diabetes and neuropathy, that can quickly develop into a more serious complication.
About 15% of people with diabetes will develop a foot ulcer, which is an open sore or wound that is typically found on the bottom of the foot. 6% of people that get a foot ulcer will be hospitalized due to infection, and upwards of 24% will require an amputation.
The best treatment for diabetic foot ulcers and further complications is early detection and prevention.
Prevention and Early Detection of Foot Problems
Wearing appropriate footwear, including socks on a daily basis, along with regular visits to your doctor or podiatrist, temperature monitoring, and managing your blood glucose levels all play a factor in the prevention and early detection of foot injuries.
Foot care is one of the most important considerations when it comes to managing diabetes. It’s important to remember that foot ulcers affect both people with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.
It’s important to discuss your individual risk factors for foot injuries with your doctor, CDE, and care team. By practicing self-care, educating yourself on health issues, taking ownership of your health, and utilizing tools you can work to prevent and detect problems before they turn into serious complications.
How Temperature Monitoring Can Save Your Feet
Monitoring foot temperature has been clinically proven to be more effective for early detection and prevention of diabetic foot ulcers than daily visual foot checks alone. It is a crucial tool in to understand your foot health and catch injuries early. Below you can find the key facts about temperature monitoring and how it relates to diabetic foot ulcers.
Inflammation is the Warning Sign of a Foot Injury
One of the earliest signs of an injury and inflammation. Some of the signs of inflammation include redness, swelling, pain, stiffness, loss of function, and an increase in temperature. However, according to a study in 2007 by Dr. David Armstrong and Dr. Lawrence Lavery, detecting the signs of inflammation without the right tools is difficult. Signs of inflammation may be subtle or vary from person to person, it’s not always easy to tell it’s there.
A study by Dr. Armstrong in 2004 highlights that inflammation is one of the earliest signs of a foot ulcer. By identifying inflammation, you can catch foot ulcers early so you can prevent them from happening.
Monitoring Temperature Catches Injuries and Ulcers Early
Many studies, including one by Dr. Armstrong in 2004, show that an increase in skin temperature is a sign of inflammation. In Dr. Armstrong's 2004 study, they monitored 85 patients for a period of 6 months. People were put into a ‘standard therapy’ or an ‘enhanced therapy’ group. In the standard therapy group, people got therapeutic footwear, foot health education, and podiatric care. In the enhanced therapy group, people got the same treatments as the standard therapy group, but they also monitored the temperature of their feet.
If the people that monitored the temperature of their feet saw an increase in temperature - a sign of inflammation -, they were advised to reduce foot activity until the temperature decreased. This study showed that the people who monitored the temperature of their feet every day dramatically reduced the number of ulcers.
Temperature Monitoring can reduce ulcers by up to 87.5%
Tools for Temperature Monitoring
Siren Care's Smart Socks are diabetic socks designed to integrate seamlessly into your life. Simply wear the socks every day to protect your feet, and 6 sensors on each foot continuously monitor temperature throughout the day to alert the wearer of inflammation (temperature increase). Socks are machine washable, machine dryable and can be worn for 6 months.