LA Orthopedic Group can prevent infections and promote healing of Diabetic Ulcers.
Diabetic foot ulcers are painful skin breakdowns that form on the feet. They typically occur on pressure areas, such as the ball of the foot and under the big toe. Approximately 15 percent of diabetics will develop foot ulcers.
- If not treated, foot ulcers can penetrate down to the bone
- They are preventable with proper foot care
- Diabetic foot ulcers are associated with 85 percent of diabetes-related amputations
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Causes of Diabetic Foot Ulcers
Over time, diabetes damages the tiny blood vessels and capillaries that supply blood to the extremities. Without proper circulation, the body is unable to heal normally after even a minor injury and is subject to infection. Prolonged high glucose levels also damage the peripheral nerves, which reduces the ability to feel pain. It is not unusual for diabetics to be unaware that they have a foot ulcer until it is quite advanced or they notice drainage on a sock. Dry skin, which is common in diabetics, also makes the skin more prone to corns, calluses, and cracking.
Risk Factors for Foot Ulcers
- Poorly fitting shoes and foot deformities that affect how shoes fit can cause irritation and blisters that can ultimately develop into ulcers.
- Failing to keep toenails properly trimmed can lead to ingrown toenails that can result in infections and ulcers.
- Smoking impairs blood circulation and increases the risk of developing foot ulcers.
- Failing to keep the feet clean and dry can contribute to skin breakdowns and infections.
- Individuals with eye disease, kidney disease, and other diabetic complications are more likely to develop foot ulcers.
- Diabetic foot ulcers are most common in older men, Native Americans, African Americans, and Hispanics.
Symptoms of Diabetic Foot Ulcers
Swelling and redness, especially along the pressure points of the foot, are early signs of a potential skin breakdown. Once the ulcer develops, there may be signs of drainage on a sock or shoe. A foul odor is typically a sign that the wound has become infected. As the tissue around the ulcer starts to die, it will turn black from the lack of blood flow.
Diabetic foot ulcers are normally rated on the following scale based on their severity:
- 0—The foot is at risk, but there is no ulcer present.
- 1—An ulcer has developed, but it is not infected.
- 2—The ulcer has penetrated deep into the tissue to expose tendons and joints.
- 3—The ulcer is extensive or infected.
Treating Diabetic Foot Ulcers
Anyone with diabetes who notices skin discoloration, calluses, or any type of wound on their foot should consult their doctor immediately. Prescription footwear, foot braces, orthotic inserts, and compression wraps may help reduce the pressure on the foot and prevent the ulcer from worsening. Special dressings and topical medications may be used to help prevent infection and promote healing. In the case of infection, debridement and antibiotics may be necessary. Surgery to correct bunions, hammertoes, and other foot deformities may help alleviate pressure and irritation that can lead to foot ulcers.