EVALUATION OF "CARE OF THE FOOT" AS A RISK FACTOR FOR DIABETIC FOOT ULCERATION: THE ROLE OF INTERNAL PHYSICIANS
NIGERIAN JOURNAL OF CLINICAL PRACTICE
University of Nigeria, Nnamdi Azikiwe Univ
Background and Objectives: Several risk factors predispose the diabetic patient to foot ulceration, including "inadequate care of the foot". This risk factor for foot ulceration has not been previously evaluated among Nigeria diabetic patients and is the objective of this study.
Subjects and Methods: One hundred and twenty (120) diabetic patients with and without symptoms of peripheral neuropathy receiving care at the medical outpatient department (MOPD) and the diabetic clinic of the Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital Nnewi were recruited consecutively as they presented. They were administered structured questionnaires to assess some variables concerning care of their feet as provided to them by their physicians.
Results: Among the 120 diabetic participants, 83(69.2%) had neuropathic symptoms (the symptomatic participants) while 37(30.8%) were asymptomatic (the asymptomatic participants). Eighty (80; 96.4%) of the symptomatic vs 36(97.3%) of the asymptomatic participants had never had their feet examined by their physician. Also, 26(31.3%) of the symptomatic vs 12(32.4%) of the asymptomatic participants had never received any form of advice on how to take special care of their feet by their physician, and 26(31.3%) of the symptomatic vs 6(16.2%) of the asymptomatic participants walked unshod most times in their immediate surroundings.
Conclusion: Physicians do not provide adequate care to the feet of their diabetic patients irrespective of the presence or absence of neuropathic symptoms, making this variable a critical risk factor for diabetic foot ulceration and amputation. Continuing medical education to health care providers emphasizing adequate "care of the foot" of the diabetic patient, will reduce avoidable loss of limbs to diabetes.