Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects16 million people in the United States. It is a disease that is growing rapidly due to unhealthy diets, obesity, and sedentary lifestyles. Diabetes is the inability to properly manufacture or use insulin; it impairs the body's ability to convert sugars, starches, and other foods into energy. It is expected that Diabetes cases will double in the next 25 years.
If you suffer from diabetes it is imperative to manage your care through a team approach by utilizing a podiatrist to monitor your lower extremities. The leading cause of non-traumatic lower extremity amputations is from complications of diabetes such as a foot ulcer.
A foot ulcer can form through a combination of factors. These may include a lack of feeling in the foot called neuropathy, poor circulation, foot deformities, irritation from pressure or friction, trauma, and by the duration of your diabetes. If you notice an ulcer on your foot immediate care should be sought by a podiatric doctor. The sooner you get treatment the better chance you have of healing and restoring function.
After an examination by your podiatrist a diagnosis and treatment plan will be implemented. The main goal is to prevent infection. To do this your podiatrist may recommend taking pressure off the area or "off-loading", removing dead skin and tissue, applying medication and bandages to the ulcer, and finally insuring the management of blood glucose.
If infection has begun antibiotics may be prescribed and possibly hospitalization. Healing will depend on the wound size, location, pressure exerted on the wound by walking and standing, swelling, circulation, blood glucose levels, the care of the wound, and the topical medications being applied. Prevention of foot ulcers is extremely important.
If you have diabetes wash your feet daily, inspect your feet and toes daily, lose weight, wear thick soft socks, stop smoking, cut toenails straight across, exercise, see your podiatrist regularly, be properly measured for new shoes, do not walk barefoot, avoid tight fitting shoes or stockings, and never remove calluses, corns, or warts yourself. Discuss any questions you may have with your podiatrist to insure you understand the prevention, care, and long term effects of diabetes on your feet.