This year in the United States, almost 100,000 lower extremity amputations will be performed on people with diabetes.
Why so many? In most cases, it all started with a small diabetic ulcer somewhere on the foot. In time, something as seemingly minor as a burst blister or small cut can progress into an open sore, followed by a severe infection.
Another sobering fact? Almost all these amputations could have been prevented with proper wound care.
Wound care has been a passion for Dr. Wettstein since his earliest days, when his mother was a wound care nurse. He understands how important it is to get quality wound care as early as possible, and will do everything in his power to help his patients prevent amputations and restore their health, mobility, and quality of life.
Why Wounds Are So Dangerous for Those with Diabetes
Most people don’t think of the occasional cut or blister as that big of a deal. But if you have diabetes, even problems that start small are at a much higher risk of developing into major complications.
There are two significant reasons for this:
- Nerve damage. Diabetes can reduce or even nullify your ability to feel injuries or sores in the feet. Without regularly inspecting your feet, you might not even notice there’s a sore developing at all.
- Poor circulation. Weak circulation to the feet and ankles prevents your body from closing wounds or fighting infections as effectively.
If you don’t even realize you have a wound, or you underestimate your wound because it isn’t causing you any pain, and your body isn’t able to heal it in a timely fashion, it’s much more likely to get infected.
Don’t take chances with an ulcer or sore on your feet! Don’t assume that just because it doesn’t hurt (or doesn’t hurt much) means it isn’t a serious problem. Contact our office right away.
Comprehensive Wound Care from Advanced Foot & Ankle
The best way to prevent amputations and other serious complications from a foot ulcer is by helping the wound to heal as quickly as possible.
Basic steps for a comprehensive wound care plan include:
- Assessing the condition of the wound and taking steps to prevent or reverse any infection.
- Thoroughly cleaning the wound and removing any dead skin or debris that might impair the healing process (debridement).
- Applying appropriate dressings and medication to the wound.
- Providing you with whatever tools are needed to help you keep weight and pressure off an ulcer, such as a walking boot, crutches, casting, etc.
- Making sure you have detailed instructions for how to monitor and care for your wound at home.
At Advanced Foot & Ankle, we offer several advanced tools and procedures to aid in the wound healing process, including MLS laser therapy. While this device is more commonly known for its usefulness in treating chronic pain, such as plantar fasciitis, it also can significantly boost vascular function and tissue repair mechanisms, among other positive healing effects. This not only helps your wound close faster, but can support your immune system to better prevent or reduce infections, too.
After you receive treatment for your wound, it’s extremely important that you take appropriate steps to continue your care at home. Making sure you keep weight and pressure off the wound will help it to heal faster. Also, be sure to check your blood glucose regularly and keep it within a healthy range, as out-of-control blood sugar can adversely affect your body’s ability to heal.
Preventing the Next Wound
While prompt wound care for any new ulcers is obviously of critical importance, your best way to prevent amputations over the long term is by not developing wounds in the first place. Proper prevention is key.
If you have diabetes or a history of foot wounds, it’s crucial that you take these steps:
- Manage your diabetes as well as you can. The better you can control your blood sugar, the less “wear and tear” you put on your nerves and circulatory system.
- Examine your feet carefully at least once per day. Call us right away if you notice any problems, especially open sores.
- Protect your feet by always wearing good shoes and socks, even at home.
- If you’re a smoker, quit.
- Avoid excessive use of alcohol.
- Schedule yearly diabetic checkups with Dr. Wettstein. We can help you spot the early warning signs of nerve damage and circulatory damage, and follow up with any preventative care options you may need (such as orthotics, diabetic shoes, nutritional supplements, etc.)
We are passionate about keeping our diabetic patients healthy and active! If you are experiencing any problems with your feet, or you just haven’t seen a podiatrist in more than a year, please contact us to request an appointment. We would be happy to not only address any current symptoms you may be experiencing, but also help you build a comprehensive diabetic foot care plan to prevent future problems.