HealthNotes: Blog Edition

November is Diabetes Awareness Month

November 1, 2019

Chronic Wounds: Diabetes & Amputation Prevention

According to the CDC, an estimated 30 million people in the U.S. (9.4 percent of the population) have diabetes, including 7.2 million who are unaware they are living with the disease. The percentage of adults with diabetes increases with age, reaching a high of 25.2 percent among those ages 65 years and older. In addition to age, risk factors for diabetes also include diet, activity level, obesity and hereditary.

Diabetes may be accompanied by other co-existing conditions such as blindness, heart disease, kidney failure or lower-limb amputation. High blood sugar levels, nerve damage and infection may contribute to a non-healing foot ulcer. Approximately 25 percent of people living with diabetes will develop a foot ulcer. Diabetic foot ulcers have a very high recurrence rate: as many as 40 percent of people with a healed diabetic foot ulcer will develop a new ulcer within a year. Diabetic foot ulcers can be challenging to heal. According to Limb Loss Task Force / Amputee Coalition of America, Diabetes is the leading cause of limb loss, accounting for 65,000 amputations annually. Up to 55 percent of diabetic patients will require amputation on the second leg. Even more alarming, within two to three years, nearly half of those living with an amputation will die.

Common Factors of Diabetic Foot Ulcers

There are several common factors of diabetic foot ulcers, including neuropathy, peripheral arterial disease (PAD), deformities, and Charcot foot. Neuropathy is a result of damage to peripheral nerves and often causes weakness, numbness and pain in hands and feet. Similarly, PAD is caused by narrowed arteries which reduces blood flow to the limbs. Charcot foot is a deformity that results from nerve damage in the foot or ankle, which may cause injuries to go untreated, leading to the breakdown of joints.

Frisbie Memorial Hospital’s Center for Wound Care & Hyperbaric Medicine recommends the following to help prevent diabetic foot ulcers:

  • Stop smoking immediately
  • Comprehensive foot examinations each time your visit your healthcare provider (at least four times a year)
  • Daily self-inspections of the feet, or have a family member perform the inspection
  • Regular care of the feet including cleaning toenails and taking care of corns and calluses
  • Choose supportive footwear (shoes and socks)
  • Take steps to improve circulation such as eating healthier and exercising on a regular basis

Proper wound care techniques are imperative to healing diabetic foot ulcers. Frisbie’s Wound Care Center offers specialized, leading-edge therapeutic treatments to aid in wound closure, new tissue growth, wound tissue regeneration and much more, including: Debridement, the removal of damaged tissue, is widely recognized as one of the most important methods of advanced would care. Total Contact Casting (TCC), also known as off-loading, relieves pressure form the wound and is considered the gold standard for the treatment of diabetic foot ulcers. Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) is where a patient receives 100-percent oxygen and an increased atmospheric pressure inside an acrylic chamber.

For more information about diabetic foot ulcers, or how we may be able to help avoid amputation, contact Frisbie Memorial Hospital’s Center for Wound Care at (603) 330-7914

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