Diabetic Foot Ulcers: Causes and Treatment

More than 34 million people in the United States have diabetes and there are 1.5 million new diagnoses each year. Of the many complications that can develop from diabetes, foot ulcers are among the most common — one study found that ulcers affect 19-34% of all diabetics. More alarming is the fact that 50% of foot ulcers lead to infection, and with infection comes the very real danger of amputation.

At Neuhaus Foot and Ankle, our team of experienced podiatrists specializes in preventive diabetic foot care because we prefer to focus on a more positive statistic — regular foot exams can reduce amputation rates by 45 to 85%.

In the following, we take a closer look at the causes and treatments for diabetic foot ulcers.

Behind the ulceration

To better understand the primary cause of diabetic foot ulcers, let’s quickly review why your feet are at risk when it comes to diabetic complications. To begin with, the high levels of glucose in your bloodstream that come with diabetes often compromise your circulation, especially in areas that are farthest from your heart where your blood has to fight both gravity and distance. 

This inefficient circulation often leads to neuropathy, or nerve damage, which causes the loss of sensation in your feet, rendering you unable to notice a breach in your skin.

As well, the reduced circulation can lead to dry skin around your feet, which leaves them more prone to cracking, especially if you have calluses or corns.

The bottom line is that without healthy circulation of oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood in your feet, even the most minor blister can turn problematic as your body is unable to send in the necessary resources to heal the wound, which allows infection to set in.

Remaining vigilant and getting help

As we mentioned above, the numbers demonstrate that regular diabetic foot care is paramount in maintaining the health of your lower extremities, and this care begins at home.

If you have diabetes, you should be especially vigilant when it comes to your feet, which includes:

We want to underscore this last point as it’s important that you have a good podiatric team in your corner when you have diabetes. At our practice, we help our patients with diabetes prevent and overcome serious complications like foot ulcers by:

With any wound on your foot, immediate care is crucial to preventing infection from setting in. Our team understands the steps to take to encourage healing and when it may be necessary to step in surgically to remove the infectious threat.

If you have diabetes, the first step to healthy feet is to contact one of our locations in Hermitage, Brentwood, Nashville, Mount Juliet, Gallatin, Waverly, Smyrna, Murfreesboro, or Lebanon, Tennessee.

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