Diabetes is alarmingly common. According to the CDC, an estimated 34.2 million Americans, more than 10% of the American population, have diabetes. In one year, an estimated 1.5 million new cases of diabetes are diagnosed among adults and over 200,000 cases in children and adolescents. Diabetes increases the risk for many other serious health problems. Luckily, with comprehensive treatment and recommended lifestyle changes, many people with diabetes are able to prevent or delay the onset of complications. One such complication is nonhealing foot ulcers, and at the Vein & Fibroid Treatment Center, we can help treat, manage, and prevent nonhealing diabetic foot ulcers.
Diabetic Foot Ulcers
Diabetes is the leading cause of non-traumatic lower extremity amputations in the U.S. Between 14-24% percent of patients with diabetes who develop a foot ulcer will require an amputation, and foot ulceration precedes 85% of diabetes-related amputations. A diabetic foot ulcer is an open sore or wound on the foot of a person with diabetes. These ulcers are most commonly located on the plantar surface, or bottom of the foot. Diabetic foot ulcers occur in approximately 15% of persons with diabetes. Of those who develop a foot ulcer, 6% will be hospitalized due to infection or other ulcer-related complication.
Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy
Diabetic peripheral neuropathy is a precipitating factor in almost 90% of diabetic foot ulcers. Diabetic neuropathy is caused by chronically high glucose levels which damages nerves. When the sensory nerves that enable a person to feel pain, temperature, and other sensations are damaged, there is a higher risk that a cut or foot sore will go unnoticed due to numbness. That sore or exposed area runs the risk of not healing properly and becoming infected.
Peripheral Artery Disease
Peripheral artery disease is 2–8 times more common in patients with diabetes. It is when poor circulation affects the arteries of the feet and hands. Diabetics are at a higher risk of developing this disease because inflammation and atherosclerosis caused by diabetes damages blood vessels. Blood circulation in the arteries then becomes restricted and the availability of oxygen, glucose, and critical nutrients to tissues in the body is substantially reduced. This restriction of the supply of oxygenated, nutrient-rich blood to the site of an ulcer is why peripheral artery disease increases the risk of an ulcer becoming infected and heal slowly–or not at all.
Types of Diabetic Ulcers
There are several types of diabetic foot ulcers:
- Neuropathic ulcers occur where there is peripheral diabetic neuropathy, but no ischemia caused by peripheral artery disease.
- Ischemic ulcers occur where there is peripheral artery disease present without the involvement of diabetic peripheral neuropathy.
- Neuroischemic ulcers occur in patients with both peripheral neuropathy and ischemia resulting from peripheral artery disease.
It is critical that the right diagnosis is made as the cause of a diabetic ulcer will most likely affect the treatment plan. The experts at the Vein & Fibroid Treatment Center know what signs and symptoms to look for in order to properly diagnose and treat foot ulcers.
Diabetic foot ulcers can act as a gateway for other systemic infections such as cellulitis, infected foot ulcers, and osteomyelitis. The compromised immune systems associated with diabetics, means that these ulcers are especially dangerous for patients with diabetes. Proper treatment will not only accelerate the healing process but decrease the change for infection in the future. Wound care and risk reduction are critical, and the earlier treatment starts, the better. Contact us at the Vein & Fibroid Treatment Center to find out more about diabetic foot ulcers and how we can help your healing process begin. Book an appointment here.
We work very closely with podiatry, infectious disease, and wound care who are able to diagnose and help co-manage these problems. We welcome meeting and getting to know local podiatrists within the Inland Empire who wish to partner with us on foot ulcer treatment programs.