When left unattended, a small problem has the potential to grow into something dire. This is true for life in general but can be particularly devastating in the case of a diabetic wound. Even a small nick to the foot can turn into a serious ulcer, thanks to several factors that can work against a patient with diabetes. Quickly discovering wounds of any size and giving them the prompt and thorough care they need is essential to preventing major complications.
How Diabetic Wounds Form
The effects of diabetes are a recipe for disaster as far as wounds are concerned. Here's why. Feet are particularly vulnerable to the consequences of diabetes on circulation. This is mainly because they're already so far from the heart that it's naturally a challenge to pump blood to them without additional trouble.
The nerves are among the first parts of the feet to suffer from these negative effects. As they become damaged (peripheral neuropathy), the ability to sense things like temperature and pain in the feet gradually diminishes. This can eventually mean that injuries to the feet will go entirely unnoticed.
Add to this the fact that poor circulation to the feet can also inhibit the ability to heal, and you have a very dangerous combination. If an injury goes unnoticed and untreated, it may not heal quickly enough against the constant irritation of continuing to walk on it. Instead, that small cut grows larger and deeper and may even become infected.
According to the American Podiatric Medical Association, between 14 and 24 percent of patients with diabetes who develop a foot ulcer each year will require an amputation due to infection or other complications. That's a terrible result but, with regular podiatry care, it's also one that can be prevented.
Diabetic Wound Care
The first step of a good diabetic wound care program is identifying potential problems before they ever have a chance to become serious. This begins at home with a daily diabetic foot inspection. Every day, look and even feel along your feet for signs of abnormalities. These can include small cuts, sores, ingrown toenails, discolorations, places that feel extra warm to the touch—anything out of the ordinary.
If you find something of concern, the best thing to do is give us a call and let us know about it. We can then determine whether it's something you should keep an eye on or whether you need to come in for an examination and possible treatment.
When a wound needs treatment, our priorities lie in properly cleaning debris and dead tissue from the area (debridement), preventing/controlling infection, and encouraging healing. Once debridement and bandaging have been performed, different methods might be employed to encourage the healing process. These could involve taking pressure off the injured area through the use of a cast, brace, or custom orthotics. It might also involve laser therapy to encourage blood flow and cell repair.
Schedule an Appointment
Let the experts at Capital Podiatry Associates help you prevent diabetic wounds or stop them in their tracks. The sooner you discover a potential problem and begin treatment, the less likely it is that you'll face complications down the road.
Make us a key part of your diabetic care team. Not only can we address wounds when discovered, but periodic checkups can identify and take care of underlying dangers before they arise. Call us at (703) 560-3773 or complete our online contact form to request an appointment with one of our specialists. We will be happy to answer any questions you might have.