Diabetic leg or foot amputation is a major complication of diabetes. Because April is Limb Loss Awareness Month, today Dr. Hubert Lee at CarePlus Foot & Ankle Specialists in Bellevue, WA, shares his tips for preventing amputation caused by diabetes.
Diabetes is associated with two medical conditions that increase the risk of foot amputation: Peripheral artery disease (PAD) and diabetic neuropathy.
These are different conditions, but they are closely related because they cause some of the same complications.
PAD: This (chronic) disease develops when plaque builds up, diminishing blood circulation. This tightening of the arteries, typically in the lower areas of the body, can cause cramps, numbness, weakness, and aches. The decreased blood flow causes wounds to heal slowly or not at all. Then the tissue can become damaged, and an infection can grow and spread to the bones. When this occurs, in many cases, amputation is the only option to avoid more damage.
Diabetic neuropathy: This nerve damage is often caused by elevated blood sugar levels. The tingling and burning pain associated with this condition may cause the patient to feel weakness in the hands, feet, or legs. When left untreated, it can result in total numbness in the limbs, causing the patient to miss signs of an infection.
Because many patients with diabetes have a loss of sensation or can’t feel pain in their toes and/or feet, wounds or ulcers can develop and become infected. At that point, diabetic leg or foot amputation may be needed if the infection isn’t treated.
Amputation Prevention Tips for Diabetics
Diabetics can help prevent foot/leg amputation by exercising daily, consuming a healthy diet, and maintaining their blood glucose levels.
In addition, there are additional ways to prevent amputation, including:
- Examining your feet daily, looking for any signs of wounds, infection, ulcers, or other abnormalities
- Seeing a podiatrist regularly and at the first sign of any issue
- Always wearing socks to prevent blisters and protect your feet.
- Never going barefoot to avoid getting wounds or cuts on the bottoms of your feet.
- Cleansing your feet daily with a mild soap and drying them thoroughly, particularly between the toes
- Wearing shoes that fit correctly and provide adequate support.
If you are living with diabetes and are worried about complications, contact Dr. Hubert Lee and his team at CarePlus Foot & Ankle Specialists in Bellevue, WA, to schedule your next visit. You can schedule an appointment online or by calling us at 425-455-0936.