A diabetic foot ulcer is an open sore or wound that occurs in approximately 15 percent of patients with diabetes and is usually found on the bottom of the foot. Side effects of diabetes such as poor circulation and obesity often lead to the ulcer developing, not being noticed, and eventual infection. Effective preventive podiatric care is necessary for many diabetics. However, of those who develop a foot ulcer, 6% end up hospitalized due to infection or other ulcer-related complication, with a possibility of facing amputation. Research shows that with effective podiatric care, foot ulcers are avoidable.
Anyone can develop a foot ulcer or suffer from a wound to the foot, those with diabetes have a higher likelihood due to the symptoms of the disease. Ulcers form due to a combination of factors, such as lack of sensation in the foot, poor circulation, foot deformities, irritation (such as friction or pressure), and trauma. Diabetics can develop neuropathy, a reduced or complete lack of ability to feel pain in the feet due to nerve damage caused by elevated blood glucose levels over time. This often causes patients to develop and ulcer or sustain a wound without even being aware of it. Those who use insulin, have diabetes-related kidney, eye, and heart disease are more likely to develop a foot ulcer. Obesity and the use of alcohol and tobacco are also contributing factors in the development of foot ulcers.
Our goal for the treatment of foot ulcers is to promote healing and prevent infection. The more quickly the wound heals, the less chance for an infection. Elements of our approach to wound care include:
In some cases the wound may need debridement, which is the removal of dead tissue which prevents infection. Surgery is typically only needed in the most severe circumstances
Not all ulcers are infected; however, if your podiatrist diagnoses an infection, a treatment program of antibiotics, wound care, and possibly hospitalization will be necessary.