Diabetic Foot Ulcers

 

What are Diabetic Foot Ulcers?

Diabetic Foot Ulcers are sores that form on the foot. They are usually on the bottom of the foot, although they can also be found on the top or side of the foot. They form in areas of pressure and friction. 

 

What causes Diabetic Foot Ulcers?

Diabetic Foot ulcers:

  • mostly form over a period of days to weeks
  • are due to daily repeated exposure of the skin of the foot to pressure and friction. 
  • often form under neglected callouses and corns

Pressure and friction are more likely to develop with:

  • poorly fitting or worn-out shoes
  • foot deformity such as bunions and hammertoes

Just like the sole of your shoe eventually wears out and may develop holes in high-pressure spots, the skin of the sole of the foot "wear holes" in it if unprotected.

This process happens in patients with neuropathy, or a loss of feeling on the soles of the feet.

People who don't have neuropathy don't typically form foot ulcers because wearing a hole in the bottom of the foot would hurt!

 

Are Diabetic Foot Ulcers dangerous?

YES. Diabetic Foot Ulcers are one of the leading causes of infection and hospitalization for patients with Diabetes. Untreated ulcers can lead to potentially limb or life threatening infections such as cellulitis, abscess, bone infection, or gangrene.  

 

How are they treated?

Your Podiatrist is the best health care provider to treat a Diabetic Foot Ulcer.  A podiatrist will treat them with a technique called off-loading, which is a process of modifying your existing footwear or prescribing temporary footwear such as a surgical shoe or boot to control the pressure and friction on the Ulcer. 

Your Podiatrist may also treat Diabetic Foot Ulcers with regular debridement, an office procedure which cuts away portions of the sore that are not healing. This procedure stimulates the wound to increase circulation and reduces the risk of infection. 

Your Podiatrist may also prescribe antibiotics for infection, prescribe biologically active wound dressings, or seek consultations from a vascular specialist to help improve circulation to the foot. Occasionally surgery may be required to correct an underlying bone deformity. 

 

How can I prevent Diabetic Foot Ulcers?

Studies have shown the single best prevention for Diabetic Foot Ulcers is to see a podiatrist if you have Diabetes (1). 

Additionally you should be in the habit of checking your feet daily at home. If you have neuropathy, callouses, corns, thick toenails, or deformities such as hammer toes or bunions, you should pay special attention to your feet. 

Diabetic Shoes are also a very effective tool for preventing Diabetic Foot Ulcers.

 

 

 

References:

1. The economic value of specialized lower extremity medical care by podiatric physicians in the treatment of diabetic foot ulcers. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21406693?report=abstract