To understand how a wound care specialist can help with a diabetic foot ulcer, it is first important to know some of the basics. First of all, it helps to understand what a diabetic foot ulcer is, what causes it, and when should a specialist be asked for help.
What is a Diabetic Foot Ulcer?
This is a wound located at the bottom of the foot. It usually occurs in patients who have diabetes. Of those patients, about six percent will need hospital care due to infection or a complication caused by ulcers.
In the U.S., diabetes ranks as the top cause of non-traumatic lower extremity amputations. There is a 14 to 24 percent chance that diabetic patients who develop a foot ulcer will need an amputation. Foot ulcers account for 85% of amputations related to diabetes.
What causes a Diabetic Foot Ulcer?
A foot ulcer can develop in anyone who has diabetes. However, there are some who are more likely to suffer from it than others. For instance, there is a high rate of development among African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, and older men.
Those with high insulin levels are also at risk of developing foot ulcers. Patients who suffer from an eye, kidney, or heart disease related to diabetes are also at risk of foot ulceration.
Other risk factors for foot ulcers are being overweight, alcohol use, and tobacco use.
There are different reasons for the formation of ulcers. They are mostly caused by a combination of factors, including inadequate feeling in the foot, deformities in the foot, trauma, poor circulation, irritation, as well as the length of time as a diabetes patient.
A patient who has had diabetes for a long time will have elevated blood glucose levels, which can lead to nerve damage and therefore contribute to a lack of feeling in the feet or the inability to feel pain in the same area.
Foot ulcers can be further complicated by the vascular disease since it reduces the ability of the body to heal therefore making it prone to infection. The body’s capability in fighting off infections are also restricted when blood glucose levels are high.
Since pain is not a symptom of foot ulceration, one way to notice the problem is drainage on socks. An odor is also noticeable, as are redness and swelling.
It’s important to see a podiatrist immediately if an ulcer is found. Diabetic patients need to get their foot ulcers treated to minimize the risk of infections or amputations. In addition, seeking help can improve quality of life and minimize health-care costs.
How can a Wound Care Specialist Help?
A foot ulcer that isn’t infected won’t require surgery. However, if non-surgery treatments aren’t working, then seeing a wound care specialist is an option. A specialist can find ways to remove pressure on the area that is affected. They can also help with correcting foot deformities such as bunions, bumps, and hammertoes.
Recovery time after surgery largely depends on the size of the wound and its location. Healing time can take weeks or stretch to a couple of months.
We specialize in diagnosis and treatment for any and all wound care issues for patients in San Diego County, Orange County and Riverside County. For more information or to set an appointment, please contact us.