One of the major complications of diabetes is neuropathy, and that can lead to foot ulcers. Nerves are very often being affected by diabetes. This can occur even in the very early stages of diabetes (pre-diabetes). As a result of numbness or decreased sensation patients with minor scratches or pressure, sores tend to get less attention than they should. The pain of such a lesion is not a bad thing it is an alarm system meant to call attention to the wound. Without this “alarm” patients with diabetic neuropathy tend not to take these lesions seriously. This compounded with increased blood sugar which is food for bacteria can lead to a dire situation quickly. If you add poor circulation to the situation, this can be even more disastrous. The take-home message is if you or a loved one has diabetes, pre-diabetes or even a family history of diabetes we recommend paying close attention to your feet and if you notice anything it is much better to be seen with something minor and easily treated than waiting and needing hospital admissions and surgical procedures.
Who is most at risk of developing a foot ulcer?
People with diabetes who use insulin have a high risk of developing a foot ulcer. You’re also at a greater risk if you already have another diabetes-related complication, such as kidney, heart, or eye disease. Poorly managing your diabetes, using alcohol and tobacco, and being overweight also increase your risk.
If you have numbness or poor circulation in your feet, you’re also a greater risk. The doctors at Complete Foot and Ankle can test you for neuropathy, which is nerve damage in your feet caused by the elevation of blood sugar levels. The damaged nerves can’t feel sensations of pain, meaning your ulcers can form, and get worse, without you being aware.
How do I know I have a foot ulcer?
As a person with diabetes, you often don’t have a lot of feeling in your feet, so it can be hard to detect when a foot ulcer develops. Try to perform a daily exam of your feet to look for any open sores or cuts, redness, or swelling. If you have an ulcer, you may notice some drainage on your socks. Ulcers that have been present for a while may start to have an odor, too.
What should I do if I notice an ulcer?
Visit the expert team at Complete Foot and Ankle if you notice an ulcer on your feet. As a diabetic with high risks of neuropathy elevated glucose levels and poor circulation it is best to act quickly to prevent serious complications of what may seem like a minor issue.
The sooner you can get treatment and have the ulcer resolved, the better. You want to avoid infection; up to 24% of diabetics with foot ulcers in the United States end up needing to have the foot amputated.
How is a diabetic foot ulcer treated?
The podiatrists at Complete Foot and Ankle will help you prevent infection and heal the wound.
They may recommend special shoes or inserts to protect your feet. Specific wound care including antibiotics, vascular evaluation, skin grafting and even reconstructive surgery can be necessary.
How can I prevent a diabetic foot ulcer?
Prevent foot ulcers by washing your feet every day and keeping them dry, but moisturized. Change your socks frequently and trim your toenails. All diabetics should have their feet evaluated at least once per year. If you detect any signs of wounds or infections, we recommend immediate evaluations to prevent severe complications. The team at Complete Foot and Ankle specialize in treating and more importantly preventing these diabetic foot issues.
For more information about how the specialists at Complete Foot and Ankle can help you, a diabetic, care for your feet, call or go online to make an appointment today.