Diabetes, when poorly controlled, can damage the nerves in the feet and legs. This nerve damage is called neuropathy. High blood glucose levels can damage the nerves and weaken their ability to send signals. There are three different types of neuropathy, which can occur in a person with diabetes. All three can affect the feet in different ways.

Sensory neuropathy: this is caused by damage to the nerves that carry messages from the skin, bones and muscles to the brain. It most commonly occurs in the legs and feet, but can on occassion, occur in the arms and hands.  This neuropathy can lead to a loss of feeling and following this a failure to sense pain. Symptoms include tingling, numbeness and extreme sensitivity to touch.

Motor neuropathy: is very rare and can be painful. It can cause muscle weakness and possibly muscle wasting. It can lead to foot deformities.

Autonomic neuropathy: this affects the bodies ability to control the automatic body processes. These include the sexual organs, stomach, intestine and sweat glands. It is this neuropathy that can make the skin on your feet become dry and in some cases cracked.

People with diabetes should check and wash their feet regularly, to avoid infections or wounds.

Diabetic foot problems are the most common cause of amputation in the UK, according to the lastest statistics from Diabetes UK. This can be avoided if the person recieves good care and knows how to look after their feet.

*Some of this information has been reproduced from with kind permission of Diabetes UK. © Diabetes UK

What care to expect in your area?

In Bexley, the 'low risk' podiatry service is available to people over 50, who find it difficult to care for their feet or if they cannot reach them. This service involves nail clipping, advice on foot care and foot wear only. This does not include any scalpel work (such as removal of corns and callouses). This service is provided by Age Concern Bexley and there is a small charge for people with diabetes and no other longterm complications. The podiatry team can treat you at home (if you are a housebound patient) or in the surgery.

Home Visits:

Initial appointment (includes initial assessment) - £21.00

Subsequent appointments - £15.00

Clinic visits: £12 per visit. The clinics are held at two venues in the borough on two different days.

  • Tuesday morning at Bushey Court, 169 Hazel Road, Slade Green
  • Thursday at Sidcup Day Centre, 7 Hadlow Road, Sidcup

If you would like to use this service please make an appointment with your GP.

If you are a patient who already has certain complications (i.e. neuropathy, retinopathy or nephropathy) then please follow the link to our high risk pages.


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Diabetes UK "Putting Feet First" campaign

Diabetes UK have launched a nationwide campaign, "Putting Feet First," to raise awareness about how diabetes affects your feet and what you can do to check yourself.  This campaign will aim to improve the knowledge about feet and foot related problems for people with diabetes. The campaign asks for 4 things:

  1. People with diabetes should be more actively involved in checking their own feet and knowing how to look after them.
  2. Local services should be delivering an integrated footcare pathway, ensuring people get seen and treated correctly
  3. Healthcare professionals should be more aware of the risks of diabetic foot disease
  4. There should be an national diabetes implementation plan, for all aspects of diabetes care and not just feet.

This campaign was launched at the Diabetes UK annual professional congress in March 2012. For further information on the campaign click here to visit the Diabetes UK website.

Block A Level One, Queen Mary's Hospital, Frognal Avenue, Sidcup, Kent, DA14 6LT Diabetes Queries: 020 8269 3419