I’ve had the unfortunate task of amputating a toe or part of the foot on several occasions. It’s never fun informing a patient that amputation is needed. Most of the amputations were because of a diabetic infection. About half of them could’ve been avoided by earlier intervention. Fortunately, the outcome for all these patients was very good. They were able to walk comfortably and lead a normal life.
Chronically elevated blood sugar levels are responsible for the process that impairs the neurological, vascular, and immune systems of people who have Diabetes. This often leads to a variety of medical problems of the feet. 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 $30,000 and $60,000. Not only is this a costly disease but also one that can lead to the loss of life. The mortality rate after amputations is 40% at one year and 80% at five years.
The bright side of these grave 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 amputations can be prevented.
Here is a list of the five most important things you can do to decrease your risk of amputation:
1. Inspect your feet daily for sores or other skin irritations even if it means using a mirror.
2. Dry between your toes thoroughly to prevent moisture buildup that can lead to infection.
3. Have your feet measured every time you buy shoes. Wearing the correct size and style of a shoe can’t be overstated.
4. Be diligent about keeping your blood sugar under control.
5. 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 the person with diabetes but rather to enlighten you about the seriousness of the disease and the potential impact on feet. One small problem left untreated can lead to a catastrophe. Please don’t let it happen to you. For more information, contact Range Foot & Ankle today!