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In the United States, roughly 15 percent of people with diabetes will develop an open sore or wound known as a diabetic foot ulcer. These wounds are most often found on the bottom of the foot and can lead to a need for serious medical intervention.
Approximately 14 to 24 percent of those who develop a foot ulcer will require an amputation. Diabetes is the leading cause of non-traumatic lower extremity amputations in the United States, although research has shown that the development of a foot ulcer is preventable.
Diabetic foot ulcers are formed due to a combination of factors such as poor circulation, foot deformities, friction/pressure, trauma, and long-term diabetes. Further complications occur in patients who have developed a condition known as neuropathy, which is a reduced or total lack of ability to feel pain in the feet as a result of nerve damage.
This kind of nerve damage is caused by elevated blood glucose levels over time. This damage often occurs without pain, and because of this, many who develop neuropathy are unaware of the condition.
This loss of feeling means that many of those who develop a foot ulcer will not feel pain as a symptom. Most often, the first thing a person may notice is drainage from the wound on one’s socks. Swelling and redness are common, and if the condition has advanced significantly, odor may also be present.
Because of the high risk of infection and the difficulty these wounds present in terms of healing, once one is noticed, it is important to seek medical care immediately. With treatment, the risk of infection and subsequent amputation, along with accompanying medical costs, can be reduced, and a patient’s quality of life and limb function may be increased.
The best treatment for diabetic foot ulcers is prevention. This requires regular visits with a podiatrist at our Bay Area Foot Care in San Rafael, as well as eliminating risk factors like smoking, alcohol consumption, high cholesterol, and elevated blood glucose levels. Other considerations may include seeking guidance from your podiatrist on proper footwear.
A crucial skill those at risk for foot ulcers must develop is how to check one’s feet in order to identify a potential problem as early as possible. Feet should be inspected every day, especially the soles and between the toes. Early warning signs include cuts, bruises, cracks, blisters, redness, ulcers, and any other abnormalities.
In each visit with your health-care provider, shoes and socks should be removed so feet can be examined. No matter how insignificant a problem may seem, any issue should be reported to your podiatrist as soon as possible.
There are various forms of treatment that may be pursued depending on the severity of the wound as well as other factors. With this in mind, it is critical to consult with your specialist and decide on which avenue will be best for you.