doctor inspecting a foot under lights | Expert Maryland PodiatristsDuring their lifetime, 15 percent of people with diabetes will experience a foot ulcer, and between 14 and 24 percent of those with a foot ulcer will require amputation. Diabetes is the leading cause of lower extremity  or foot amputations in the United States. Each year, more than 82,000 amputations are performed among people with diabetes.

After an amputation, the chance of another amputation within 3 to 5 years is as high as 50 percent. The 5-year mortality rate after amputation ranges from 39 to 68 percent.

Causes of Diabetic Foot Ulcers and Wound Care Treatment

The causes of diabetic foot ulcers are multi-faceted, involving factors such as neuropathy, poor circulation, impaired wound healing, and inadequate foot care. In severe cases, these ulcers can lead to the involvement of amputation specialists, necessitating ulcer treatment or even foot and toe amputation. The following keywords highlight the key aspects of these causes:

  1. Neuropathy: Nerve damage due to diabetes reduces pain sensation, leading to unnoticed injuries and pressure points on the feet.

  2. Poor Circulation (Peripheral Arterial Disease): Diabetes-related blood vessel narrowing restricts blood flow to the feet, impairing oxygen and nutrient delivery to the tissues.

  3. Impaired Wound Healing: Elevated blood sugar levels hinder the body's natural healing processes, delaying wound closure and increasing infection risk.

  4. Inadequate Foot Care: Neglecting foot hygiene and wearing improper footwear contribute to skin breakdown and ulcer formation.

  5. Amputation Specialists: In severe cases, specialized healthcare professionals skilled in managing foot or toe amputations and wound care become crucial.

  6. Ulcer Treatment: Diabetic foot ulcers require targeted treatment, including wound cleaning, infection management, and advanced dressings.

  7. Foot Amputation: If ulcers progress, foot amputation might be considered to prevent widespread infection and complications.

  8. Toe Amputation: In some cases, toe amputation is necessary to halt the spread of infection or tissue damage.

Efforts to prevent diabetic foot ulcers involve regular foot examinations, maintaining proper blood sugar control, adhering to foot care routines, and seeking medical attention for even minor foot injuries. For those facing severe complications, collaboration with amputation specialists ensures appropriate care and management, potentially avoiding the need for amputation through timely and effective ulcer treatment.

Prevention and Treatment of Diabetes Foot Ulcers

According to the National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP), a partnership among the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and over 200 organizations, including the American Podiatric Medical Association, comprehensive foot care programs can reduce amputation rates by 45% to 85%. A comprehensive foot care program would include:

  • Early identification of the high-risk diabetic foot
  • Early diagnosis of foot problems
  • Early intervention to prevent further deterioration that may lead to amputation
  • Patient education for proper care of the foot and footwear

If you are diabetic, call Annapolis Foot & Ankle Center for a diabetic foot exam. Amputations CAN be avoided with proper preventative care.

Eric Harmelin, DPM
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Experienced Amputation Prevention Specialist and Podiatrist in Annapolis, Stevensville, and Glen Burnie, MD.