An estimated 23.6 million Americans have diabetes and some 750,000 new cases are diagnosed every year, according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA). The most common form of the disease, Type 2 diabetes, accounts for 90 to 95 percent of the cases and is caused by the body’s resistance to insulin at the cellular level and a relative insulin deficiency. Also known as adult-onset diabetes, the disease is nearing epidemic proportions due to an increased number of older Americans and a greater prevalence of obesity and sedentary lifestyles.
A number of systemic disorders occur from diabetes, including sensory neuropathy, a common complication of the disease in which patients lose nerve sensation. Numbness and Tingling As a result, they lose feeling at the bottom of the feet and are unable to react to pain, pressure and heat. Another complication of diabetes affecting the foot is compromised circulation.Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) and Amputation Poor circulation to the feet can cause foot ulcers and prevent timely healing of wounds and injuries in the patient with diabetes.
According to published studies, 15 percent of Americans afflicted with diabetes, will develop a serious foot ulcer during their lifetime. Repetitive trauma or pressure that goes unnoticed due to sensory neuropathy can produce calluses that, without proper attention, eventually progress to ulcers. Chronic ulcers can become seriously infected if they are unnoticed or untreated. As a result, some 80,000 foot amputations are performed every year in the U.S. on patients with diabetes.Diabetic Foot Amputation Prevention
Early detection of risk factors associated with ulcer formation, therefore, is essential in the overall management of diabetic patients and can significantly reduce the incidence of ulcers and eventual amputation. Prompt and aggressive treatment of foot ulcers can prevent worsening and help accelerate healing. Diligent self care also is a key component for early detection. Diabetic patients should inspect their feet every day, wear shoes that fit properly and minimize pressure, and maintain their blood glucose levels within the desired range. Regular visits to a foot and ankle surgeon for removal of calluses and ingrown toenails provide an opportunity to reinforce self-care behavior and detect new or impending foot problems. Diabetic patients should not try to remove calluses by themselves.Diabetic Foot Care
Patients with a long patient history of diabetes may experience change to their foot such as limited joint mobility, muscle atrophy and diminished fat padding that contribute to foot deformities and foot ulcers. For example, diabetes-induced atrophy of the muscles in the foot increases pressure at the tips of the toes and can cause a hammertoe deformity. The resulting constant pressure on the toes makes them susceptible to ulcers.
Off-loading techniques using orthotics and special shoes can help minimize pressure and prevent calluses. The pressure reduction approach also can prevent or minimize the risk of the foot ulcers that result from the abnormal, repetitive pressures caused by the foot deformities that are a complication of diabetes.
Optimal care of chronic foot ulcers also requires supportive home and work environments that allow patients to be compliant with an off-loading treatment regimen. This must be combined with appropriate glucose control through diet and medication, aggressive wound care, adequate treatment of infection, and use of custom-fitted shoe gear and orthotics to prevent reoccurrence of these ulcers.
If you or someone you know has diabetes, please contact 1 of our offices, for a consultation: Our Offices
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