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Diabetic Foot Ulcers | Amputation | Wound Care

Diabetic foot ulcers are a serious complication of diabetes. They occur in 15% of all diabetic patients and precede 84% of all lower leg amputations.

diabetic foot and wound care

More than 60,000 diabetic patients every year require a lower extremity amputation due to complications from their diabetes. In most cases, this tragedy can be avoided by early intervention from a podiatric surgeon who will treat the ulcers and keep them from becoming infected.

On the foot of a person without diabetes, a small sore heals in short measure. But the same small sore on the foot of a diabetic patient can lead to a catastrophe. This is because many diabetics have poor blood circulation and reduced feeling in their feet due to diabetic peripheral neuropathy. They may also have diminishing eyesight due to their  diabetes, making it difficult to spot a small sore on their foot.  A minor cut, or even a sore caused by a too-tight shoe, can become seriously infected and if left untreated, lead to amputation.

Podiatrists consider even minor redness, calluses, blisters, sores, or any break in the skin of the foot to be a diabetic foot ulcer. In those patients with weakened immune systems, nerve damage, or poor circulation, the ability to fight even minor infections is significantly diminished, becoming chronic, non-healing wounds. A small wound in these patients enters a perpetual inflammatory state and can't move through the healing process. Unfortunately, these infections can become systemic, involving the entire foot, including the soft tissue and bone.

 

If you have diabetes, there's no such thing as a minor wound to the foot. If you develop a foot ulcer, monitor it closely for signs of infection and follow your physician's guidelines for treatment.

 

Symptoms of diabetic foot ulcers

Soreness, redness, small cuts, calluses

What to do if you notice a diabetic foot ulcer

  • Cover the area with antibiotic cream immediately
  • Cover with sterile gauze pad to protect it from further injury or infection
  • Keep off your feet as much as possible
  • Visit your podiatrist or wound care center as soon as possible

How your podiatrist will treat a diabetic foot ulcer

  • Test the area to determine blood circulation (blood delivers healing properties to wounds)
  • Cut away dead tissue and clean the ulcer
  • Take weight off the area of the foot with a special shoe, padding, air boot, bracing, or in-shoe orthotics

How to avoid diabetic foot ulcers

  • Effectively manage your blood glucose from the onset of your disease. Consistently high blood sugar causes significant damage to the circulatory system and nervous system, even when no symptoms are apparent.
  • As soon as your diabetes is diagnosed, keep a regular appointment with your podatrist or podiatric surgeon to monitor your foot and ankle health. They will test you regularly and set a baseline against which they can measure any changes in your toes, feet, ankles, or lower legs.
  • Maintain good foot hygiene - read our page on foot and ankle health guidelines for diabetics
  • Wear properly fitted, cushioned shoes that protect your feet at all times.
  • If you notice any redness, abrasions, tiny sores, or anything out of the ordinary - no matter how minor - schedule an appointment with your podiatrist for an exam.