If you’re living with diabetes, one area of the body you need to be especially aware of is your feet. We’ve all likely taken our feet for granted at one time or another, but people living with diabetes are at particular risk for a non-healing diabetic foot ulcer, a potentially life-threatening complication of diabetes.
What are diabetic foot ulcers? A diabetic foot ulcer is a wound, or sore, on the foot of someone living with diabetes. If left untreated, these ulcers can lead to severe infections that may result in amputation. Because the consequences of not treating a diabetic foot ulcer are so potentially dire, it’s important to seek treatment as soon as you realize an ulcer is present.
If you’re concerned that you have a non-healing diabetic foot ulcer, make an appointment to see your doctor, and read more to educate yourself.
Diabetic foot ulcers are wounds that occur on the feet of someone living with diabetes. Here are some facts about these ulcers:
Diabetic foot ulcers are best treated by a team of medical professionals that may include:
Poor blood flow in the legs can make it harder for the body to heal from an injury. Many times, a non-healing foot ulcer is a symptom of PAD.
Symptoms of PAD can include:
If PAD is present, early treatment (if performed within 8 weeks of the start of evaluation) to reroute the blood flow, can often lead to improved healing over time without the need for major amputation.[ii]
If you think you may have PAD, take the PAD risk assessment and then talk about your symptoms and concerns with your doctor.
It’s difficult for researchers to determine just how many people have waited, as well as how long they typically wait, before going to the doctor. One study found that ulcers that have been present for about a month and a half before the first doctor visit were less likely to heal than ulcers that were seen and treated sooner.[iv] As previously mentioned, non-healing foot ulcers are often a sign of PAD, because a non-healing sore on the foot, toe, or ankle can be a sign of a malfunctioning circulatory system. This is important to realize, because there are minimally invasive PAD treatments that can help. Doing nothing, however, or waiting too long to see if the sore will heal, or get your PAD treated, can increase your risk for more serious complications, such as chronic infection, gangrene, and even amputation.
Did you know that many lower-limb amputations not related to trauma occur in people with PAD? A foot ulcer is thought to be the initial event that often leads to lower-limb amputations.[v] Foot amputation due to PAD complications, like a non-healing diabetic foot ulcer are decreased when a team of medical specialists is dedicated to treating the PAD that is causing the ulcer.[vi]
If you are living with diabetes and/or PAD and still haven’t made an appointment to see your doctor about a wound on your foot, please set up that appointment as soon as possible. It’s the one thing you should do right away if you notice an ulcer on your foot. The longer you wait, the higher the chances are you’ll develop an infection that could lead to an amputation.