Diabetic Ulcers: Treatment and Prevention
April 11, 2013
According to the CDC, some 15% of the roughly 25 million Americans diagnosed with diabetes will develop a diabetic foot ulcer. These ulcers are dangerous, often lead to amputations and further complications, and cost the American healthcare system some $16 billion annually. Therefore, identification of risk factors, prevention and treatment become critical to the survival and well-being of the patient.
A staggering 15% of patients who develop diabetic ulcers will eventually require amputation of the lower extremity. Ulcers left untreated can severely diminish the patient’s quality of life, and causes severe pain and other complications. Even with treatment, however, diabetic ulcers are notoriously difficult to heal. With standard treatments, 76% remain unhealed after 12 weeks.
Diabetic ulcers are treated with a variety of methods, including wound dressings , debridement (removal of dead tissue), and off-loading. Other treatments include using negative pressure to remove excess fluids and placing the patient in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber. New advanced technologies such as Talymed are being introduced in the treatment of diabetic ulcers.
Treatment of diabetic ulcers is often not an easy or cheap undertaking. The average cost of standard treatment in 2010 was quoted at $46,000. Worse still, if the ulcer requires amputation, that operation will cost another $45,000. Compare those numbers with the few minutes it will take each day to check and care for your feet.
Proper foot care, then, is critical for any diabetic patient.
For the best help in preventing diabetic ulcers, patients should consult their doctor to create a routine to check and care for their feet.
Keep active. Moving around will keep your heart and your body healthy, increase blood flow, and even make you feel better.
Check your feet every day. If you have blisters, cuts or wounds, get them treated immediately and take care to follow all instructions from your doctor.
Wash your feet every day. Cleanliness is key to foot health. Dirty feet are at risk to become infected if you have blisters or wounds. Especially wash between the toes!
Wear shoes and socks. Protect your feet from the elements, and from environmental dangers - don’t go barefoot outside, and always test the waters at the beach or pool. Special shoes and socks are available that are designed for diabetics, and special shoes are often recommended by doctors for patients recovering from ulcers.
Living with diabetes is no easy task; there’s a lot of information to take in, and a lot of steps one must take to prepare and protect themselves from further complications later on. But there’s always help out there, and the alternative isn’t worth letting go. Get into a good routine to take care of yourself!