Diabetes is the leading cause of non-traumatic amputations in the lower extremities. Approximately 24 percent of diabetic patients who develop a foot ulcer will require amputation. That’s why it’s important to know what a diabetic foot ulcer is and what you can do about it.
What is a diabetic foot ulcer?
It’s an open wound most commonly found on the bottom of the foot. About 15 percent of patients with diabetes will develop a diabetic foot ulcer. Of those, six percent will be hospitalized due to infection or a complication.
What causes it?
Foot ulcers form due to several factors, including poor circulation, irritation, a lack of feeling in the foot and foot deformities. Repetitive trauma to a foot without realizing it is a big culprit. Diabetic patients may develop what’s called neuropathy, which is a reduced or complete lack of ability to feel pain in the foot. Elevated blood glucose levels can cause nerve damage over time. Elevated blood glucose also can slow healing and reduce the body’s ability to fight off infection.
What are the signs?
If you’ve developed diabetic neuropathy, meaning you’ve lost the ability to feel pain, you will want to pay close attention to your feet. The first signs are often drainage on your socks. You may see redness and swelling with the ulceration, or even an odor.
How is it diagnosed and treated?
If you have an ulcer, seek medical care with Dr. Zakhary right away. He is passionate about wound care and limb salvage. Once diagnosed, a foot ulcer will be treated by taking pressure off of the affected area, removing dead skin and tissue, applying medication or dressings to the ulcer, and managing blood glucose and other health problems to help with healing and reduce risk of infection and amputation.
A wound such as a diabetic foot ulcer can have a physical, social and financial impact on your life. If you are concerned about diabetic foot ulcer, call our office at (623) 258-3255 to schedule an appointment.