Diabetes Complications and Amputation Prevention
People living with diabetes are prone to having foot problems, often because of two complications common among diabetics: nerve damage (neuropathy) and poor circulation. Neuropathy may cause loss of feeling in your feet, taking away your ability to feel pain and discomfort, so you may not detect an injury or irritation. Poor circulation in your feet reduces your ability to heal, making it hard for even a tiny cut to resist infection.
Causes & symptoms
- Infections and ulcers (sores) that do not heal. Sores in the skin may go all the way to the bone. Because of poor circulation and neuropathy in the feet, cuts or blisters can easily turn into ulcers that become infected and will not heal. This is a common complication of diabetes and can lead to a loss of your foot, your leg or your life.
- Corns and calluses. Corns and calluses must be properly treated or they can develop into ulcers.
- Dry, cracked skin. Poor circulation and neuropathy can make your skin dry. Dry skin can result in cracks that may become sores and can lead to infection.
- Nail disorders. Ingrown toenails and fungal infections can go unnoticed because of loss of feeling. If they are not properly treated, they can lead to infection.
- Hammertoes and bunions. Nerve damage affecting muscles can cause weakness and loss of tone in the feet, resulting in hammertoes and bunions. If left untreated, these deformities can cause ulcers.
- Charcot foot. This is a complex foot deformity. It develops as a result of loss of sensation and an undetected broken bone that leads to destruction of the soft tissue of the foot. Because of neuropathy, the pain of the fracture goes unnoticed and the patient continues to walk on the broken bone, making it worse. This disabling complication is so severe that surgery, and occasionally amputation, may become necessary.
- Poor blood flow. In diabetes, the blood vessels below the knee often become narrow and restrict blood flow. This prevents wounds from healing and may cause tissue death.
We will help your wounds heal, preventing amputation. We can perform many new surgical techniques to save your feet and legs, including joint reconstruction and wound healing technologies. Getting regular foot checkups and seeking our immediate help when you notice something can keep small problems from worsening. We work together with other healthcare providers to prevent and treat complications resulting from diabetes.