Diabetes is a chronic disease that grows stealthily affecting vital organs, the nervous system, skin, muscles, joints and skeletal structures of the body. Poorly controlled blood sugar can lead to various complications including foot ulcer.
What is a diabetic foot ulcer?
The term “foot ulcer” describes an open wound located below the ankle anywhere on the foot. It is usually people with diabetes who are at risk of developing it. In this case, it is important to consult a healthcare professional before it is too late. Indeed, an untreated foot ulcer can create many long-term complications sometimes requiring amputation of the foot, one of the unfortunate consequences of diabetes.
What are the causes of diabetic foot ulcer?
The causes of diabetic foot ulcer are different, but each one contributes to the development of foot ulcer in people with diabetes. The causes are the following:
- Poor management of diabetes (poorly controlled blood sugar) which eventually damages the nerves;
- Sensory and motor neuropathy: damage to the nerves;
- Peripheral artery disease: blockage of an artery, poor healing
- Ill-fitting or narrow shoes;
- Walking barefoot;
- Obesity and smoking;
- Lack of adequate foot hygiene;
- Foot problems (bunion, callus, horn, callus);
- Swelling in the lower limbs;
- Foot injury or infection;
- Ingrown toenails.
What are the symptoms of diabetic foot ulcer?
Symptoms of diabetic foot ulcer should alert you and prompt you to consult a healthcare professional or podiatrist without delay:
- no longer feel hot or cold on contact with the skin;
- loss of sensitivity of the feet to touch or when walking;
- recurring unusual pain;
- numbness or tingling;
- difficult wound healing;
- accumulation of thick, discolored, moist, or spongy calluses;
- open sores in the bony parts of the sole of the foot;
- cold feet;
- dry, shiny and atrophic skin;
- loss of reflex or atrophy of the muscles which leads to deformity of the foot;
How to prevent the occurrence of a diabetic foot ulcer?
People with diabetes should be very careful with their feet. A wound, large or small, can become infected quickly. Additionally, healing may take time. Therefore, the patient must adopt a preventive strategy in order to avoid the appearance of a foot ulcer and, if necessary, the aggravation of the situation.
- Observe safe blood sugar control: this is an essential preventive point;
- Observe every corner of his feet regularly and every day or ask someone to help you;
- If a wound has just appeared, make an appointment with your doctor right away;
- Cleanse any wound with physiological saline or mild soap and water, then put on a sterile protective pad;
- Follow a rigorous foot hygiene rule:
- dry the feet and wipe between the toes
- moisturize the skin with a cream
- cut your nails without cutting too short
- avoid walking barefoot
- check the presence of small stones in the shoes
- Wear wool or cotton socks, without tight elastics or seams;
- Wear comfortable shoes, neither too tight nor too loose, with a small heel. If in doubt, seek advice from your podiatrist.
What are the treatments for diabetic foot ulcer?
Treatments for diabetic foot ulcer depend on its location, nature and severity. The podiatrist may recommend a biopsy, an ultrasound of the foot, a digital x-ray of the foot or a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) beforehand. The podiatrist then prescribes the treatment adapted to the situation:
- topical or systemic antibacterial treatment in case of infection;
- custom-made plantar orthotics;
- a topical antimicrobial dressing;
- tricyclic antidepressants for neuropathic pain;
- tissue debridement (surgery with scalpel, hydrogels, alginates and enzymes, bio-surgery).
When the foot ulcer is at a very advanced stage, amputation of the affected toes or in extreme cases of the foot is recommended. This procedure is performed by a specialist doctor.
Make an appointment
Diabetic foot ulcer is not a mild medical condition; on the contrary, it can lead to serious situations if it is not treated in time, which you probably do not want. That’s why the advice of our podiatrist can save you a lot of trouble and save your feet.
Call us without delay. Our PodiatryMD network in downtown Montreal, on Rue Jean-Talon (corner Lucerne), Laval, West Island, Gatineau and Ottawa, is here to serve you. Our podiatrist can provide you with the solution to your health problems