The CDC gives an overview of several ways patients with diabetes can prevent diabetic foot ulcers and amputations.
Patients with diabetes are more likely to develop diabetic foot ulcers due to decreased blood flow to the limbs. These slow-healing injuries can put patients at a higher risk of amputations. This not only can reduce the quality of life for patients, but can be very costly for the healthcare system.
Diabetes is the main cause of the loss of toes, feet, or legs that is not the result of an accident; however, 50% of these amputations can be mitigated with proper care, according to the CDC.
To avoid or delay problems that may lead to amputations, the CDC recommends:
1. Manage the “ABCs” of diabetes
The CDC advises that patients manage their A1c levels, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and do not smoke for optimal foot health. By ensuring these levels are within in the target, patients will improve overall health and slow or prevent diabetic foot ulcers.
2. Seek professional care
Patients with diabetes should make sure they are asking their primary care providers to check their feet for early signs and symptoms of diabetic foot ulcers.
Patients should also visit a podiatrist at least once per year to develop a proper foot care plan and discuss the option of special shoes, according to the CDC. Podiatrists may also be able to advise patients on how to properly address foot problems, such as calluses.
3. Do not walk barefoot
Not walking barefoot is the easiest way to ensure that patients do not injure their feet, according to the CDC. Patients should also check shoes prior to wearing them to make sure that the lining is smooth and there are no objects inside.
Daily foot care is especially important for patients with diabetes. The CDC reports that patients should check their feet for calluses, cuts, sores, blisters, red spots, and swelling each day.
Patients with diabetes should also wash their feet with warm water, but be sure to not soak them. The CDC cautions that patients should dry their feet well and not put lotion between their toes, as it can cause infections.
5. Keep the blood flowing
When sitting, blood flow to the legs may be limited. Since blood flow improves healing, it is important for patients with diabetes to elevate their feet while sitting. Additionally, the CDC reports that patients should move their toes and ankles for 5 minutes 2 to 3 times per day and not cross their legs for long periods of time to improve blood flow.