The word “wound” caries a lot of weight. The word doesn’t just apply to injuries from accidents and other traumatic events. It also applies to one of the most serious signs of diabetes damage in the feet. An ulcer is a complete breakdown of the soft tissues in your lower limbs that exposes the sensitive tissues underneath your skin. Left untreated, one wound can lead to life-threatening infections and even limb amputation. That’s why invested wound care is such an important part of maintaining your foot health with diabetes.
How and Why Wounds Develop
An ulcer is a serious complication of two other diabetes symptoms—namely, peripheral neuropathy and decreased circulation. The elevated and fluctuating blood sugar levels that characterize diabetes damages your blood vessels and your nerves, impairing your circulation and creating nerve damage, pain and numbness in your lower limbs.
With decreased circulation, the ability to heal small injuries is imparol. Nerve damage makes it more difficult to feel cuts or blisters when they develop, so you’re unlikely to take care of them before they break down. You end up walking on a small break in the skin; the pressure and friction damages the sore further and creates the ulcer.
The Risks You Face
Since diabetes seriously impacts your immune system, any break in the skin is, of course, a dangerous problem. You now have an opening for bacteria and other germs to reach the inside of your lower limbs. From there they can travel rapidly throughout the body. Without a strong immune system to combat the problem, an otherwise small infection can quickly become life-threatening. In extreme cases, an amputation might be the only way to eliminate the infection from a wound.
What Wound Care Does for Your Feet
Of course, no one wants to lose a toe or a foot. Thankfully, if the problem is caught quickly enough, we can care for the wound properly and hopefully prevent an amputation. Dr. Cynthia Oberholtzer-Classen and the team will carefully examine the developing ulcer and check it for infections. Then you’ll be immediately started on a recovery plan to restore your lower limbs.
The first step is always removing all weight from the affected foot. Pressure and friction allow a small sore to deteriorate into a full-blown wound, so you need to stop using the injured limb. After that, the ulcer will be cleaned. This could be simply washing the sore, or it could involve a process called debridement. If your wound needs to be debrided, all the dead or festering tissue will be excised to keep the rest of your foot healthy and allow the sore to heal.
After this, our staff will apply medication to prevent infections. If you already have an infection developing, you might need additional antibiotics. Then your open sore will be carefully bandaged to protect it. These dressings will have to be changed regularly to apply more medicine. You’ll need to wear a special boot and avoid walking on that foot until the sore is completely healed. Once your foot is restored, you’ll have to recondition your lower limbs to walk normally without injuring yourself. You’ll probably need to wear diabetic shoes or special orthotics to prevent the problem from reoccurring, too.
Wound care is a crucial part of maintaining your diabetic foot health and combatting infections and complications. It’s far better to prevent an ulcer from developing in the first place, though, so don’t take any small injury for granted. Instead, let our Dr. Oberholtzer-Classen and the team at Podiatry Associates, P.C. help you. Make an appointment today at our offices in Castle Pines or Parker, CO. You can reach us by calling (303) 805-5156 or by using our online request forms.
Photo Credit: Simon Howden via FreeDigitalPhotos.net