People who live with diabetes face challenges from the disease that range from vision loss to an increased risk for heart disease.
One of the most significant problems is cuts and injuries of the foot due to diabetic neuropathy. Neuropathy typically affects your legs and feet, and symptoms range from numbness to a pins-and-needles sensation, as well as pain.
When neuropathy develops, those with diabetes can sustain cuts and injuries on their feet that they don’t feel. This is potentially disastrous, and we’ll get into why in a moment.
The expert and caring podiatrists at South Florida Foot & Ankle Centers have extensive experience providing foot care, including regular monitoring of the foot health of people living with diabetes. The practice also offers a range of advanced care for many other foot and ankle conditions.
For diabetics, a foot wound can quickly lead to grave complications. The problem with an unnoticed foot injury — even if it’s very small — is that it can develop into a foot ulcer, which is a deeper, open wound that fails to heal.
Bacteria that enter the wound can travel into your bloodstream. A systemic infection is very serious, and can lead to the need for amputation of toes, the foot, or even the leg.
A full 15% of diabetics develop a foot ulcer at some point, and 6% of these patients end up needing hospitalization because their ulcer becomes infected.
Foot ulcers tend to recur and heal very slowly, thus exposing you to a higher chance of infection and more serious repercussions.
The blood circulation problems of diabetes contribute to the development of ulcers, and we can’t overemphasize how important it is to seek medical treatment for a foot ulcer promptly.
If a foot ulcer isn’t addressed in a timely manner, serious complications may include:
We know there’s a lot to manage with diabetes, including paying close attention to your blood glucose levels and adopting and sticking with healthy lifestyle habits — like eating well and getting plenty of exercise — to keep you as healthy as possible.
You have choices with foot ulcer treatments
When you visit us with a foot ulcer, our first line of treatment tends to be treating your wound with antibiotics and dressing it with bandages.
When needed, we also use specially medicated bandages and bandages that are biologically activated, which use tissue from living organisms to aid in the closing of chronic wounds. They accelerate healing.
Other innovative treatments include:
1. Stem cell treatment may hasten healing and help prevent infection, keeping you out of the hospital.
2. Negative pressure wound therapy involves your doctor applying a sealed dressing to your wound. This is followed by gently vacuuming your wound via an attached external pump. The resulting negative pressure increases blood flow to your wound while decreasing fluid in the wound.
This treatment has been shown to reduce the risk of amputation. The device not only cleans your wound, it gives healthy tissue a chance to grow, preserving the injured part of your foot and helping to stop reinfection.
3. Platelet-rich fibrin therapy is a regenerative treatment for foot ulcers that uses your body’s own healing properties to accelerate ulcer healing.
4. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy requires that the patient go into a pressurized room and breathe in nearly pure oxygen. The blood gets more oxygen, which reaches the wound and promotes healing.
One study from 2018 showed that this treatment was successful for over 74% of individuals suffering with a foot ulcer, and it was superior to other treatments.
As always, your podiatrist at South Florida Foot & Ankle Centers takes great care to learn as much as possible about the history of your ulcer development and where you are emotionally as well as physically. Only then do they make their treatment recommendations.
You play a big part in your foot health too. It’s critical to closely examine your feet daily to head off any brewing problems. This way, an injury doesn’t go unnoticed and never has the chance to progress to a dangerous stage.
It’s also important to wear well-fitting shoes and never go barefoot, to clean your feet well each day, and trim your nails straight across.
If you live with diabetes, call the South Florida Foot & Ankle Centers office most convenient to you and schedule an appointment to talk about foot care management, or book your visit online.