If you’re one of the more than 100 million Americans living with diabetes or prediabetes, you might not be focused on how the disease affects your feet. But each year, 230 Americans undergo amputation due to diabetes every single day. What’s more? Over 85% of those amputations are due to complications from diabetic foot ulcers.
At Arlington/Mansfield Foot & Ankle Centers, we’re dedicated to helping our diabetic patients in Arlington and Mansfield, Texas, safeguard their foot health. Our experienced podiatrists have gathered information on why a diabetic foot ulcer should never be ignored and what you can do if you develop one. Read on to learn more!
How is diabetes linked to my feet?
You probably know that diabetes develops when your blood glucose level, or blood sugar, is too high. With Type 1 diabetes, your body can’t produce enough insulin. With Type 2 diabetes, on the other hand, your body doesn’t use the insulin it does produce correctly.
Whether you have Type 1 or 2 diabetes, you’re at greater risk of having elevated blood sugar levels. And when your blood sugar remains elevated, it damages nerve tissues creating a condition called peripheral neuropathy.
Peripheral neuropathy, also sometimes called diabetic neuropathy, creates numbness and loss of sensitivity in the lower extremities and feet. If you can’t feel cuts, blisters, or sores on your feet, there a greater risk of bacteria entering the wound and creating an infection.
What are diabetic foot ulcers?
A diabetic foot ulcer is an open sore or wound usually located on the bottom of the foot. These ulcers typically begin as a small blister or cut. Since diabetic nerve damage can deaden sensation in feet, the small wound goes untreated and infection sets in, creating an ulcer.
Diabetic foot ulcers can be serious and require medical attention. About 15% of people with diabetes develop foot ulcers, and about 85% of diabetic amputations begin with a foot ulcer.
Why is treating diabetic foot ulcers important?
It’s important to never ignore diabetic foot ulcers. Once an ulcer develops, it won’t heal easily. This puts you at risk for developing a serious infection that may permanently damage your bones and lead to lower limb amputation.
If you notice a small cut, blister, or wound on your foot, don’t delay treatment. Schedule an appointment with one of our diabetic foot specialists right away. Early treatment could mean the difference between a full recovery or losing a limb.
Can I avoid diabetic foot ulcers?
The best way to treat diabetic foot ulcers is to avoid them in the first place. The first step in preventing a foot ulcer is to control your blood sugar. Elevated blood sugar creates nerve damage, which can trigger foot problems.
Diabetic feet often have increased pain and swelling, and cold and warm baths can help. Warm water increases blood flow while cold water baths reduce inflammation. You can alternate between the two or add ice massages for optimal relief.
Staying active helps improve circulation and decrease your risk of developing nerve damage. Regular walking helps manage your blood sugar and prevent diabetic neuropathy, which is associated with diabetic foot ulcers.
Be sure to wear proper footwear and avoid shoes that cause the blisters, calluses, and sores that lead to diabetic ulcers. Our podiatrists can help fit you for diabetic shoes or inserts to ensure the best preventive care for your feet.
Finally, if you have diabetes it’s important to develop a healthy foot care routine with the help of a diabetic foot care specialist. Specialized care includes:
- Regular foot examinations
- Professional care of calluses and corns
- Treating wounds and blisters
- Trimming toenails to prevent injury
How are diabetic foot ulcers treated?
If you have diabetes and notice a blister, cut, callus, sore, or other foot issues, seek immediate medical care to avoid the development of a foot ulcer. Once an ulcer develops, it is difficult to heal and your risk of developing a serious infection increases.
Your doctor at Arlington/Mansfield Foot & Ankle Centers evaluates your feet and conducts important vascular and nerve testing. If a foot ulcer presents, your provider creates a customized care plan for you. Treatment may include:
- Medical care or dressings to prevent infection
- Debriding the wound to remove dead skin/tissue
- Medication to promote healing
- Off-loading to alleviate pressure from wounds or ulcers
If your doctor determines off-loading is needed, you’ll be outfitted with special footgear, a brace, casting, or a wheelchair to help take the pressure off the ulcer so it can heal.
Ready to learn more about diabetic foot care or treatment for diabetic foot ulcers? Contact the Arlington/Mansfield Foot & Ankle Center nearest to you or request an appointment online now!