Diabetic Foot Ulcer Overview
People with diabetes are prone to develop foot ulcers (open sores) often because of several complications of diabetes: immmunocompromise (weak immune system), nerve damage / numbness (peripheral neuropathy) and poor circulation (peripheral arterial disease). Peripheral neuropathy takes away your ability to feel pain or discomfort, so you may not detect an injury to your foot. Peripheral arterial disease reduces your ability to heal, making it hard for even a tiny cut to heal. A weak immune system cannot fight infections properly, which may lead to a life threatening infection.
Having diabetes increases the risk of developing a wide range of foot problems and life threatening infections and / or foot amputation. In addition, with diabetes, small foot problems can turn into serious complications.
Causes of Diabetic Foot Ulcer:
- Poorly controlled diabetes mellitus
- Peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage that leads to foot numbness)
- Peripheral arterial disease (Poor circulation)
- Callus to the bottom of the foot
- Poor fitting footwear
Symptoms of Diabetic Foot Ulcer:
- Open sore / wound to the foot
X-ray: Usually does not show anything, unless there is a severe infection of the soft tissue or infection of bone.
MRI: Can be used to determine if there is an area of abscess (collection of puss) or bone infection.
Conservative Treatment of Diabetic Foot Ulcer:
In early stages of foot ulcers, local wound care and offloading is recommended.
- Debridement (removing unhealthy tissue) by a physician only
- Local wound care with topical antibiotic cream or ointment
- Take pressure off the area (offload) with padding
- You physician may prescribe antibiotic pills if infection sets
- Use of negative pressure wound therapy system (V.A.C) to stimulate new tissue growth
If the ulcer has become infected surgery may be indicated. Surgery can include: removing death tissue, amputation of bone or applying synthetic skin grafts.
A diabetic foot ulcer is a serious complication and can become a life threatening emergency; people with this condition should be seeing a doctor on regular basis.
We encourage you to consult with a foot and ankle specialist for a complete assessment of your condition.
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