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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
How your podiatrist will treat a diabetic foot ulcer
How to avoid diabetic foot ulcers