Having to amputate a toe, part of the foot or the leg is incredibly unfortunate. Informing a patient they need an amputation is one of the worst things we have to do. Most lower extremity amputations are a result of a diabetic complication. Many of them could have been avoided by earlier intervention.
Chronically elevated blood sugar levels are responsible for the processes that impair the neurological, vascular and immune systems, which can result in a variety of medical problems which affect the lower extremity of the patient with diabetes. Diabetic Neuropathy leaves the lower extremity vulnerable to silent and painless trauma. Poor blood flow fails to bring enough fresh blood and nutrients to the feet. An impaired immune system doesn’t have the ability to fight bacteria and cleanse a wound.
There are more than 90,000 lower extremity amputations performed on patients with diabetes every year. The direct cost of an amputation associated with the diabetic foot is estimated to be between $35,000 and $70,000. Not only is this a costly disease but also one that leads to loss of life. The mortality rate after an amputation is 40% at one year and 80% at five years.
The bright side of these grim statistics is a unique opportunity to impact your quality of life through a dedicated prevention program. Recent studies indicate that up to 85% of all lower extremity amputation’s can be prevented.
Here is a list of the five most important things you can do to decrease your risk of amputation:
- Inspect your feet daily for sores or other skin irritation even if it means using a mirror.
- Dry between your toes thoroughly to prevent moisture buildup that can lead to an infection.
- Have your feet measured every time you buy shoes. Wearing the correct size and style of shoes can’t be overstated.
- Be diligent about keeping your blood sugar under control.
- See a Podiatrist at least once a year for a thorough foot exam. Any problems that arise between annual visits must be addressed immediately.
This information isn’t meant to scare anyone with diabetes, but rather enlighten you to the seriousness of the disease and its potential impact on your feet and life. One small problem left untreated can lead to a catastrophe. Please don’t let it happen to you!