In addition to April being Foot Health Awareness Month, according to the American Podiatric Medical Association, it is also Diabetic Limb Loss Awareness Month! In the podiatric world, the loss of the foot below the ankle is more common than you might think. Did you know that limb amputations account for nearly 25% of the annual Medicare expenditures in the U.S.? Astonishingly, this translates into over two thousand amputations per day.
Thankfully, many of these are non-traumatic amputations, the majority of them due to ulcerative complications from diabetes. Ulcers are open sores that heal slowly or fail to completely heal. These sores are at risk of repeatedly breaking open during the healing process, leaving them vulnerable to severe, prolonged infection. Some signs and symptoms of diabetic ulcers can include discoloration, swelling, warmth and tenderness, foul-smelling discharge, and callused or thickened skin around the wound.
In patients with diabetes, ulcers on the feet often develop due to the destruction of blood vessels and nerve endings, otherwise known as diabetic neuropathy. These blood vessels supply the nerves in the feet with oxygen and nutrients. When they become damaged or completely destroyed through neuropathy, the feet of a diabetic patient become extremely vulnerable to developing ulcers. Approximately 15% of patients with diabetes, especially those with Type 2 diabetes, will lose a limb due to an ulcer.
However, studies done by today’s medical professionals show that the majority of non-traumatic amputations are avoidable when the patient receives consistent and high-quality podiatric care. The most efficient way to reduce a patients vulnerability to ulcerative amputation is not only consistent and high-quality podiatric care, but also consistent and high-quality primary and home care to work at increasing their circulatory health, lowering their blood pressure, glucose, and cholesterol levels.
With the support of your podiatrist and primary care physician, managing and preventing ulcers to reduce a diabetic patients’ risk of needing an amputation is more than hopeful! Give Dr. Scott McKinney and team a call today at (713) 946-1500 to schedule your next appointment and help spread awareness about diabetic limb loss.