What is it?

There are two types of diabetes type 1 and type 2.

People have type 1 diabetes when their body makes no insulin and will need to take insulin for the rest of their life  This is more commonly seen in the age group of 0-40 and although we do not yet know exactly why it happens we do know it tends to run in families.

People have type 2 diabetes when their body cannot make enough insulin or use the insulin it makes effectively.  It tends to be more prevalent in people who are older, overweight, have a poor diet and may also be seen in the family medical history.

What are the symptoms?

There are a number of general symptoms with diabetes such as tiredness, weight loss, going to the toilet a lot and feeling thirsty.  For more information visit: http://www.nhsinform.co.uk/

What are the symptoms on the foot?

People with diabetes are at much greater risk of developing problems with their feet due to the damage raised blood sugars can cause to sensation and circulation.  The main neuropathic (nerve) problems associated with diabetes and the foot is numbness or changes in sensation (sensory), muscle imbalance or weakness (motor) which can affect mobility and the autonomic nerve systems which impacts on how messages are sent to key organs and glands which can impact on the body’s ability to control a number of functions such as its ability to sweat and respond to heat.


Circulation can also impaired which means the blood supply to the foot can be limited.  This can cause a number of symptoms such as cold feet, loss of hair and brittle nails.


Dependant on your foot health status a practitioner will categorise the foot often into low, moderate and high risk.  This is dependent on a number of factors such as nerve or vascular impairment, deformity of the foot such as a hammer toe which has a corn present on it.  The practitioner will also consider your foot as part of the medical history to determine risk such as previous foot ulcers.  This will be key when formulating your foot care plan.

For more information visit https://www.diabetes.org.uk/Guide-to-diabetes/Monitoring/Feet/What-can-I-expect-at-my-annual-foot-check/

What should you do?

Check your feet and if you notice any abrasions blisters callous or anything unusual contact a professional for advice immediately.

Appropriate fitting shoes are key to help prevent callous, corn and blister formation.  Check your shoes and socks for seams and make sure they are not impacting on your foot.  Check our footwear advice and tips

Get your feet measured and if you have problems due to any deformities you may need to seek advice from the relevant healthcare practitioner such as a podiatrist or orthotist.

When to seek help for your feet?

With regard to your feet and part of your ongoing review you should have your foot assessed on an annual basis at a minimum.  Dependent on the outcomes of your assessment and risk status you may be reviewed more regularly and provided with appropriate care to meet your foot health needs.

When you check your feet if you notice any changes or have any concerns contact an appropriate healthcare professional immediately (if this is out of hours you may need to access via another service such as an Emergency Room).

For more information visit https://www.diabetes.org.uk/Guide-to-diabetes/Monitoring/Feet/What-can-I-expect-at-my-annual-foot-check/

Top Tip

During your foot assessment prepare questions you need answers for.  Make the most of your time with the experts.

Appropriate Footwear will help!

In consultation with your healthcare professional there is lots of footwear that will be appropriate to support your needs.

These are some of the shoes we recommend, but get advice to make sure you get the appropriate shoe for you.

See More Foot Conditions

If you are still looking for the correct foot condition have a look at our full list of foot conditions or try our virtual foot to help narrow down the conditions to those relevant to you.

If you are having trouble finding the correct foot condition and you are in pain you should make an appointment with the appropriate medical practitioner in your area.