Routine Podiatric Care A Key Factor in Avoiding Amputations
More than 29 million people in the U.S. have diabetes – nearly 10 percent of the population, according to the American Diabetes Association. That includes both type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disorder that prohibits the body’s normal production of insulin, and type 2 diabetes, which tends to occur in adults whose bodies either don’t produce enough insulin or don’t process it or use it correctly.
Among those who have diabetes, foot pain is a very common complaint. Unfortunately, it’s one which is often initially ignored or written off as part of aging or a consequence of weight gain. In fact, diabetic foot pain can be a sign of nerve damage, occurring when glucose levels remain elevated for long periods of time. Without treatment, nerve damage in the feet can cause sores or ulcers to form, which can lead to infections. Diabetes also interferes with healthy circulation, which can result in rest pain leading to gangrene.
How does podiatry work to help diabetics stay as healthy as possible?
Diabetic foot complications are about a lot more than having sore feet. Foot ulcers are notoriously difficult to treat, and about 80,000 lower extremity amputations are performed each year in the U.S. as a result of ulcers, causing mobility issues and raising the risk of other diseases. Prognosis is also poor among those who have foot ulcers, ranging from 43 percent to 55 percent, and up to 74 percent for those who undergo amputations.
Podiatrists play a critical role in managing diabetic foot complications, including administering advanced treatment options for ulcers that can potentially avoid the need for amputation in many patients. In addition, through proper, routine foot care and evaluations combined with rigorous patient education, podiatrists can help diabetic patients prevent the development of ulcers. A recent study showed that including podiatry in a multidisciplinary, coordinated effort to treat diabetes could prevent up to 50 percent of related amputations and the pain, depression and loss of quality of life that often follow.
The Importance of Routine Foot Care in Diabetes
The symptoms of diabetes often develop slowly, and many people who have diabetes may not even know they have the condition until it causes more serious symptoms. Over time, diabetes can take a toll on the skin, making it more brittle and prone to sores. Nerve damage can reduce sensations in the feet, making it more difficult for diabetic patients to notice the initial signs of injury or skin breakdown that can lead to ulceration. Routine care and ongoing patient education are the keys to managing diabetes-related foot issues so patients can lead healthier lives and avoid serious complications that can alter quality of life or increase their risk of death.
To learn more about diabetic foot pain, visit the LA Foot Pain website or call our office at (213) 365-0793.