GEHWOL Diabetes Report 2021

Diabetic foot: Doing more for prevention and care


By 2040, 11.5 million people in Germany could suffer from type 2 diabetes. This gloomy prognosis was issued by the German Health Report Diabetes. Many of these people have foot problems. This is a consequence of diabetes. The sugar can damage specific nerves, meaning that the feet are no longer properly perceived as part of one's own body. What is not mine is easily neglected. This also applies to the feet. But it isn't just a lack of care: diabetes itself also causes foot problems. 

This is how foot problems arise 

The nerves control the blood flow to the skin. If they do not function properly, blood circulation decreases and the skin becomes dry, brittle and flaky. The patients also do not register any pressure on the feet. Pressure leads to calluses, under which sores can form. Since sugar interferes with wound healing, one thing leads to another. Wounds may become infected without being noticed. Tissue defects develop - this is known as diabetic foot syndrome. Finally, all too often, amputation is the only remaining option to save the life of the affected person. 


How often do risk factors apply to patients?
*Data basis: Data in percent of patients (mean value), multiple answers possible.


Many amputations are avoidable

In Germany, there are currently around 40,000 to 50,000 amputations per year. And now for the really dramatic part: Four out of five amputations could have been avoided. Studies show this. But significantly improved prevention would be the prerequisite. This means, for example, that patients would receive podiatric care at an early stage after the diagnosis of diabetes. They should receive training on injury-free foot care, be sensitized to this by diabetes advisors, and also be optimally equipped in terms of their footwear. In the medical field, everything necessary to identify patients at risk should be implemented. These are just a few examples. The GEHWOL Diabetes Report sheds some light on the state of prevention. To prevent foot problems such as diabetic foot syndrome at an early stage, all specialists would need to work together: Doctors' practices, podologists, diabetes consultations, orthopaedic shoe technology, pharmacies. Patients would also have to cooperate, and take action in home foot care.



Doing more for prevention

The GEHWOL Diabetes Report therefore investigates the question of which recommended preventive measures are taken in the individual specialist circles, and by the patients themselves. The present results show that there is still potential for improvement nearly everywhere. The goal is to sensitize all diabetics to the fact that they must pay special attention to their feet. Ideally, they should receive podiatric care from the outset, and not just when initial foot problems appear. This also applies to shoe care. Unsuitable footwear often exerts pressure and causes foot wounds. Finally, one would have to reach a level where every diabetic receives training as soon as possible. Diabetics should also be taught how to care for their own feet without injuries.    

Current results


GEHWOL Diabetes Report

For the GEHWOL Diabetes Report, the opinion research institutes IDS and Insight Health survey 107 doctors who have a total of 2,793 diabetes patients. The current survey took place from June to August 2021. Download the full report
here. Those affected can find interesting information and practical tips on skin care for diabetes in our guidebook. You can download the GEHWOL Diabetes Guide here.