You, or someone you love, may have a wound, sore, or ulcer on their foot or leg that just won’t heal. Unfortunately, lower extremity wounds are a very common complication of diabetes that can have severe consequences for long-term health if they are not treated properly. Diabetic wounds are, by far, the leading cause of non-traumatic amputations in the United States.
Why Do People with Diabetes Get Foot Ulcers?
Diabetes, especially when not managed properly, can lead to several complications that impair the health of your legs and feet. Elevated sugar levels in the bloodstream damage peripheral nerves and disrupt the communication between your legs and your brain. Narrowed arteries restrict blood flow to the feet, which reduces the amount of oxygen your cells can receive, slows your rate of healing, and weakens your immune system.
When you aren’t able to feel the pain of a cut or injury, your body isn’t able to close the wound or fight off a resulting infection and even minor scrapes can linger and grow. Infections that kill tissue, reach bone, or spread beyond the initial injury site may need to be amputated in order to protect the rest of your body. That’s why it’s so important to seek treatment right away, when you first notice the problem—it could be the difference between preventing an infection and returning to full health, or losing a limb forever.
Healing For Your Diabetic Wound
The physicians at Advanced Foot and Ankle Specialists of Arizona are trained in comprehensive diabetic wound care and treatment.
The main objective of wound care is to prevent or reverse any infection and heal the wound as quickly as possible. It starts with a thorough cleaning of the ulcer, called debridement—dead skin and other particles and debris need to be removed to allow healing to take place. Then, any necessary medications are applied before dressing the wound.
Occasionally, more advanced treatments are needed. At the Chandler Wound Healing Center—where are doctors are on the staff—we have access to a thorough selection of healing aids and technologies, from dressings and compression wraps to skin substitutes and grafts. We even offer hyperbaric oxygen therapy, which immerses the wound in a 100% oxygen, high-pressure environment to speed the healing process.
Treatment doesn’t end when you leave our office or the wound healing center. To continue the healing process, you will need to avoid putting any weight or pressure on the wound (this is called “off-loading”). We’ll supply any devices you may need to achieve this. You will also likely have to change your wound dressing on a regular schedule—we’ll make sure you and any caregivers have the information they need to complete this task.
Addressing the Root Causes of Wounds
A comprehensive approach to wound care is about more than just treating the symptoms. It’s vitally important to understand and identify the root causes and underlying factors so you can eliminate them.
For those with diabetes, managing your condition through exercise, a healthy diet, and carefully monitoring and regulating blood sugar levels will help keep your nerves and circulation healthier and reduce your risk of developing an ulcer.
Preventative foot care is also of paramount importance. Check your feet every day for cuts, sores, swelling, or any sign of a skin breakdown. Write down what you see and get help immediately when problems appear to be developing. You should also protect your feet from external injury by wearing socks and shoes at all times, even at home.
Foot conditions such as corns, calluses, flat feet, bunions, ingrown toenails, and more can create points of friction and pressure that make ulcers more likely. The same can also be said for external pressures, such as ill-fitting shoes or socks with sharp interior seams. As podiatrists, we’ll be able to address these concerns with appropriate care.
Don’t wait for a wound to become too serious to ignore. Call the wound care experts at Advanced Foot & Ankle Specialists of Arizona for an appointment in Gilbert or Chandler at 480-963-9000 today.