Measuring Skin Temperature Reduces Foot Problems
What to Know
Foot problems occur frequently in people with diabetes. A major cause is diabetic neuropathy, or nerve damage, that can lead to loss of feeling in your feet. When you can’t feel anything, you may not know that something’s wrong until it’s too late. An untended wound or sores, for example, can lead to infection and, possibly, amputation. That’s why daily foot exams are a crucial part of your self-care. Taking your feet’s temperature might predict sores before they become a problem, and a special thermometer may help.
A total of 225 U.S. veterans with type 2 diabetes, all at high risk of developing foot sores, participated in the study. They were taught about diabetes and foot problems, were given special footwear, and performed daily foot inspections. Half of the group received standard care, with instructions to alert the study nurse if they had problems. The other half was given a special thermometer that measures skin temperature and taught how to measure the temperature of their feet in various places. They were also given instructions on when to contact the study nurse based on their temperature readings. Everyone’s feet were examined at intervals throughout the 18-month study.
The study participants who used the special thermometer to monitor their feet temperature were far less likely to develop sores than the other participants, who received standard care. Temperature spikes predicted sores up to a week before they appeared. Patients testing foot temperature were able to identify problem areas early and, working with the study nurse, address the issue before a sore occurred.
If you have diabetes and a high risk of developing foot sores, monitoring the temperature of your feet could help you to identify and treat areas of concern before they become a problem.
Skin temperature monitoring reduces the risk for diabetic foot ulceration in high-risk patients, by David G. Armstrong and colleagues. American Journal of Medicine 120:1042–1046, 2007 - http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.amjmed.2007.06.028