7 Reasons Why Diabetic Foot Assessment Is Important
Diabetic foot ulcers are the most common reason for diabetic related hospital admissions. A study released by the World Health Organisation in 2016 confirmed that more than 422 million people have been diagnosed with diabetes worldwide. Here we look at seven reasons why you need to have regular diabetic foot assessments.
Diabetes Can Damage the Nerves in Your Feet
Diabetic neuropathy is a nerve disorder caused by diabetes. There are four types of diabetic neuropathy; peripheral, autonomic, proximal, and focal. Peripheral neuropathy usually affects the feet, legs, and in some rare cases, the abdomen, back, and arms. With peripheral neuropathy, you may experience burning, pain, numbness, and tingling. If you’ve experienced any of these symptoms, you are advised to contact your nearest foot specialist in Fairfield and book a diabetic foot assessment. High blood sugar damages the fibres in nerve endings, which can be extremely painful, but it can also lead to complete loss of feeling in the feet. Thus, any wounds, sores or legions within this area may go undetected.
Fighting off an Ulcer is Harder for Diabetics
Fighting off foot ulcers is a serious problem for diabetics. Not only are diabetics more at risk than non-diabetics, but due to poor circulation and high blood sugar, fighting off any infection is harder and requires professional treatment. The poor circulation makes it hard for blood – which is needed to repair the skin – to reach the areas on the body affected by sores and wounds.
Diabetic Related Lower Limb Complications are Common
Approximately 25% of diabetic related hospitalisations are because of diabetic foot ulcers. As common as these ulcers are in diabetic patients, DFU can be complex, diverse, and classified on several different levels. These classification levels determine the extent of the disease and the treatment plans that need to be put in place. Depth, infection, perfusion, and sensation are all things that are considered, and without proper testing an accurate treatment plan can’t be implemented.
Treatment Can Be Costly and Painful
If you haven’t gone for regular diabetic foot assessments and you have a DFU, then treatment can be costly if left too late. Between $9 billion and $13 billion is spent on ulcer care alone per annum in the United States, according to Diabetes Care. Treatments range from debridement, wound offloading using therapeutic footwear, saline dressings that need be changed daily, and antibiotic therapy. There are also more unconventional treatment methods such as hyperbaric oxygen the therapy and bioengineered skin substitutes.
Ulcers Spread Infections
There are different types of foot ulcer infections, some more serious than others. Cellulitis, a common bacterial skin infection, is not as hard to cure because it’s easier for medications to reach the infected area. Chronic Osteomyelitis, on the other hand, is more difficult to treat as the circulatory limitations require surgical debridement before antibiotic treatment can be administered. In some cases, infections can spread if the ulcer worsens. If the infection spreads to nearby bones or joints, it can be difficult to cure, even with a long course of strong antibiotics.
Infections Could Lead to Amputation
Early and accurate recognition of these ulcers is vital, not just because treatment is costly, but also because lack thereof could lead to a greater infection that can only solved with amputation. Occasionally, the tissues in the foot cannot survive the infection or peripheral ischemia and the last resort is amputation within the foot or above the ankle.
Association between DFU and Premature Death
We know that diabetes is a risk factor renal disease, infectious diseases, stroke, heart disease and cancers. A study of individuals with diabetes who also had a history of foot ulcers reported a higher risk of mortality. The study looked at the correlation between ulceration and premature death and found that, on average, diabetic patients who had developed foot ulceration were three years younger at the time of death in comparison to diabetic patients who didn’t develop a foot ulceration.
A diabetic foot doctor can perform an assessment on patients to pick up on any complications arising without the lower limb area. The doctor can also advise on preventative measures and proper diabetic footcare such as examining feet daily, washing and drying feet at least once a day, and wearing footwear both indoors and outdoors. There are many more preventative measures you can take and having a check-up with a foot specialist in Fairfield at least once a year is essential.