Posted on January 22, 2018

In May of last year, the Podiatry Clinic relocated from Hamad General Hospital (HGH) to its new facility at the Ambulatory Care Center (ACC). Since relocating, the clinic has continued to receive around one hundred patients each day, providing essential care to patients with foot and lower limb injuries and disorders.

Dr. Talal Khader Talal, a Podiatric Consultant and Head of Podiatric Services at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC), said the clinic treats patients of all ages with various diseases of the foot and leg, ranging from congenital defects to injuries sustained as a result of fractures and accidents. He says around 80 percent of patients seen at the clinic are diabetic and seeking specialized diabetic foot and wound care services.

“Between May and September 2017, we received around 6,400 patients at a rate of 80 to 100 patients each day. Most of our patients have diabetes and were treated for peripheral neuropathy, which is nerve damage caused by the disease. Diabetic peripheral neuropathy is different from peripheral arterial disease (poor circulation), which affects the blood vessels rather than the nerves. Diabetes often causes poor blood circulation because high levels of sugar in the blood can lead to hardening of the arteries,” said Dr. Talal.

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Diabetic peripheral neuropathy doesn't emerge overnight. It usually develops slowly and worsens over time. Some patients have the condition for a long time before they are diagnosed with diabetes, and having diabetes for several years may increase one’s likelihood of developing diabetic neuropathy. The condition can cause a tingling, burning, or numbness in one’s feet, as well as the loss of sensation. Dr. Talal says neuropathy is dangerous, particularly if left untreated, as the loss of sensation can lead to injuries, wounds, and sores going unnoticed and untreated.

Regular foot exams are an effective way to screen for ulcers, the development of abnormalities, and the loss of sensation. Dr. Talal recommends annual checkups with a podiatrist and daily self-examinations. “Inspecting your feet every day, and seeking care early if you do sustain a foot injury, is essential for good diabetes management. If you have diabetes, make sure your healthcare team checks your feet at least once a year – more often if you have a history of foot problems. At the Podiatry Clinic, we advise our patients to check their feet daily for cuts, sores, red spots, swelling, or infected toenails. If patients are unable to see the bottom of their feet, we advise them to use a mirror, or to have a family member complete the checkup,” says Dr. Talal.

In addition to examining bare feet daily, Dr. Talal says being physically active, avoiding smoking, and not crossing one’s legs for long periods of time is recommended. Diabetics are also advised to wear protective shoes that are comfortable and cover the whole foot. Heels and sandals should be avoided since they expose the foot and don’t provide a level platform, making one more susceptible to injury.

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