It may not surprise you to hear, but complications from diabetes are the top cause of non-traumatic lower-limb amputations in the US. What may give you pause is the fact that of diabetic patients who develop a foot ulcer, 14%-24%will result in an amputation. This should be very alarming, as almost every diabetic foot ulcer is entirely preventable with proper monitoring and comprehensive wound care from your podiatrist.
A diabetic foot ulcer is an open wound or sore, most commonly found on the bottom of the foot. Diabetic foot ulcers can occur due to several factors, such as lack of sensation in the foot, irritation, poor circulation, foot deformities, or even trauma. Diabetic neuropathy (a loss of sensation in the feet) frequently leads to diabetic ulcers, because the patient may be causing friction to the foot, but does not feel the resulting pain. Often diabetic ulcers are complicated by vascular diseases, when the blood has trouble flowing properly through the body the natural healing mechanisms of the body are greatly depleted, meaning wounds and sores heal very slowly, if at all, without medical intervention.
You podiatrist has several treatment methods when dealing with a diabetic foot ulcer. The podiatrist will clean the wound and remove any dead skin and tissue, a process referred to as debridement. The podiatrist will then dress the wound, possibly applying a diabetic wound salve to help healing. Depending on the location if the wound your podiatrist will recommend “off loading” the area of the wound, removing it from excessive pressures with a walking boot, crutches, or even a wheelchair or scooter.
For bad diabetic foot ulcers your podiatrist may want to use a medicated ulcer dressing, or even a skin substitute called a graft, in order to facilitate proper healing. They may recommend an accelerated follow up visit schedule in order to keep a closer eye on the wound as it heals. If the wound becomes infected your podiatrist will prescribe antibiotics and hospitalization may be needed as well.
If you or a loved one has diabetes then it is crucial that you visit a podiatrist for regularly scheduled appointments, due to the high level of complications that your feet have with the effects of diabetes. Ankle & Foot Associates, LLC has 17 office locations in South Carolina and southeast Georgia to better serve you. Our experienced and dedicated doctors and staff are experts at dealing with diabetes and its effects on the feet.
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