Matt Wettstein, DPM
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Experienced podiatrist specializing in all foot care including wound care and sports medicine in Twin Falls.

man with leg amputation getting fresh bandagesA foot amputation is a serious and life-changing procedure that can be prevented in many cases. If you have diabetes or another condition that puts you at a higher risk for foot amputation, there are a number of things you can do to protect your feet and lower your chances of needing surgery.

Risk Factors for Foot Amputation

There are certain factors that can put you at a higher risk for a foot amputation, such as the following:

  • Diabetes
  • Peripheral artery disease (PAD)
  • Poor circulation
  • Nerve damage in the feet
  • A history of foot problems
  • Smoking
  • Age 65 or older

Foot Amputation Prevention Tips

One of the leading causes of foot amputations is diabetes-related complications. High blood sugar levels can damage nerves and blood vessels in your feet, making it more difficult to heal wounds and infections. This can increase your risk of amputation.

To reduce your risk for a foot amputation, it is crucial to maintain control over your blood sugar levels through a combination of approaches such as:

  • Eating a healthy and well-balanced diet
  • Getting regular exercise
  • Taking medication as prescribed by your doctor

In addition, the following tips can help lower your risk for an amputation:

Regular Foot Inspections

Perform daily foot inspections to detect any cuts, blisters, or sores early on. Since having a condition like diabetes or poor circulation may cause you not to feel pain or notice injuries due to neuropathy, an injury to the foot can quickly escalate into severe infections. Carefully check the soles, between toes, and around nails for any signs of abnormalities such as a foot ulcer, and promptly address them at the first sign of a problem.

Proper Foot Hygiene

Practicing good foot hygiene is essential for preventing foot complications. Wash your feet daily with warm water and mild soap, thoroughly drying them, especially between the toes, to prevent fungal infections. Moisturize your feet to prevent cracked skin but avoid applying lotion between the toes.

Choose Proper Footwear

Wearing comfortable and properly fitting footwear is crucial for foot health. Avoid tight shoes that can cause friction and pressure points leading to blisters and sores. Shoes with adequate arch support and cushioning can help take pressure off certain areas of your feet and reduce the risk of foot injuries.

If you have diabetes, there are specialized diabetic shoes that can provide added protection against foot injuries. Diabetic shoes are designed to minimize pressure points, reduce friction, and accommodate foot deformities. 

Trim Your Nails Carefully

When trimming your toenails, cut them straight across and avoid cutting them too short, which can lead to ingrown toenails, infections, and ulcers. If you have difficulty trimming your nails or if you notice any abnormalities, contact a podiatrist for assistance.

Avoid Smoking and Excessive Alcohol Consumption

Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption can negatively impact blood flow and increase the risk of foot complications. Making lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking and reducing your alcohol intake can significantly improve foot health and overall well-being.

Protect Your Feet From Extreme Temperatures

Extreme temperatures can harm the feet, especially for those with reduced sensation. Avoid walking barefoot on hot surfaces, and protect your feet from cold weather by wearing insulated socks and footwear.

The Role of Podiatrists in Preventing Foot Amputations

If you have diabetes or another condition that puts you at risk for a foot amputation, it is important to see an Idaho podiatrist regularly. Detecting and treating foot problems early can help prevent amputation and improve your quality of life.

A podiatrist can work closely with your doctor to manage your diabetes or other conditions that put you at risk for foot amputation and can do the following to reduce your risk:

  • Conduct regular foot exams to check for any problems at their earliest stages
  • Treat any foot problems that you may have before they become more serious
  • Provide education and guidance on how to take care of your feet properly
  • Fit you with custom shoes or orthotics to help improve your foot function
  • Develop a treatment plan to help prevent foot amputation and other complications