Diabetic leg or foot amputation is one of the main complications of diabetes. Around the globe, estimates show that amputation of a limb occurs every 30 seconds, 85% of which are due to a non-healing diabetic foot ulcer. Because April is Limb Loss Awareness Month, today, Dr. Eric Ricefield, Dr. Mark Yagodich, and Dr. Aliza V. Eisen of greater Philadelphia’s Your Next Step Foot and Ankle Care Center are sharing information regarding conditions that can elevate your risk of foot amputation.
Diabetes links two medical disorders that elevate the risk of foot amputation: peripheral artery disease, also known as PAD, and diabetic neuropathy. The two conditions are different but linked because they cause some of the same complications.
PAD: This chronic condition develops when plaque builds up, making blood circulation difficult. This thinning of the arteries, typically in the lower area of the body, can cause cramps, numbness, weakness, and aches. And because of this reduced blood flow, wounds may heal slowly or not at all. The tissue can then become damaged, resulting in an infection that can develop and extend to the bones. When this happens, amputation is usually the only option to avoid more damage.
Diabetic neuropathy: This condition is nerve damage typically caused by extended elevation of blood sugar levels. The pain may be caused by burning and tingling, and the patient may experience weakness in the hands, feet, or legs. When left untreated, the patient may feel numb in these limbs and overlook the infection’s signs.
Because many patients with diabetes have a loss of sensation in their toes and/or feet, wounds or ulcers can develop unnoticed and become infected. If the infection isn’t treated, diabetic leg or foot amputation may be necessary.
Foot Care Tips for Patients with Diabetes
Patients with diabetes can help prevent leg/foot amputation by:
- Performing daily inspections of your feet to look for any signs of wounds, infection, ulcers, or other irregularities
- Wearing socks at all times to prevent blisters from forming and protect your feet
- Eating a healthy diet, exercising daily, and sustaining a healthy blood glucose level
- Never walking barefoot to decrease your risk of getting wounds or cuts on the bottoms of your feet
- Seeing a podiatrist regularly and at the first sign of any issue
- Cleansing your feet daily and drying them thoroughly, paying particular attention to the areas between the toes
- Wearing footwear that fits properly and provides sufficient support.
If you have diabetes and are concerned about complications, including amputation, contact Greater Philadelphia’s Your Next Step Foot and Ankle Care Center offices. Click here to locate the office nearest you and schedule an appointment today so we can answer any questions you may have and put together a treatment plan to address your specific needs.