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Diabetic Foot Ulcer

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by Norwood D
 

Definition

Foot Ulcer
Foot Ulcers
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.
 

Causes

Diabetes can damage the nerves of the legs and feet. This may make it difficult to feel a blister or sore. If you don't care for a sore it may become larger and infected.
Diabetes also can cause problems with blood flow. Poor blood flow can make it difficult to heal.
The ulcer itself is usually caused by:
  • Repetitive trauma or pressure on the foot
  • Puncture wound on the foot
  • Objects in the shoe that can damage the skin, such as a small rock
 

Risk Factors

Factors that may increase your chance of developing diabetic foot ulcers include:
  • Neuropathy—numbness, tingling, or burning sensation in your feet
  • Peripheral vascular disease—poor circulation in your legs
  • Improperly fitted shoes
  • A foot deformity
  • Diabetes for more than 10 years
  • Poor diabetes control (HbA1c > 9% )
  • Not wearing shoes
  • A history of smoking
 

Treatment

The sooner a diabetic foot ulcer is treated, the better the outcome. Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include the following:

Wound Care

Good wound care is important to help the ulcer heal and prevent infection. Follow your doctor's instructions for wound care. Make sure to clean the wound regularly. Change the dressings often to prevent infection.

No Weight-bearing

Constant pressure on the ulcer can make it difficult to heal. Your doctor may ask you to take some pressure off of the ulcer area. You may be given a special cast or boot. These will take the pressure off of your foot but still allow you to walk.

Blood Sugar Control

Infected ulcers can raise high blood sugar levels. High blood sugar levels can then lower the body's ability to fight infections. The high level also keeps the wound from healing.
Improved blood sugar control will help you fight any infections and heal your wounds. This control is often done with adjustments in your diet or medications. Sometimes insulin shots are needed in the short-term until your are healthy again.

Healthy Habits

If you smoke, talk to your doctor about ways to quit. Smoking can slow healing.
Wear proper footwear. Make sure it fits well.

Medication

If the ulcer is infected, your doctor may advise antibiotics. You may need to take the medication for 4-6 weeks. Do not skip doses. Finish the medication as directed.
Your doctor may also recommend a medication to place on the ulcer. The medication may help speed healing.

Surgery

Dead tissue can build up inside and around the wound. This tissue will slow or prevent healing. You may need a surgery to remove the dead tissue and clean the wound. This surgery is called debridement .
Bypass surgery may be needed to improve blood flow to the legs. This surgery uses healthy blood vessels to carry blood past areas of unhealthy blood vessels. The improved blood flow may help with wound healing.
Sometimes an infection is too severe or does not respond to treatment. As a last resort, amputation surgery may be needed. This is the removal of a body part to stop the infection from spreading to the rest of the body.

Other Treatments

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy may help with healing. This therapy is delivered in a chamber. Pure oxygen is pumped into the chamber. This helps to increase the amount of oxygen in the blood. The extra oxygen can improve healing.
Another option to help speed healing is using negative pressure wound therapy. A vacuum device and dressing are used to create negative pressure on the wound. This can help the wound heal faster.
 

Prevention

To help reduce your chance of getting diabetic foot ulcers, take the following steps:
 

RESOURCES

American Diabetes Association
http://www.diabetes.org

American Podiatric Medical Association
http://www.apma.org

 

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Canadian Diabetes Association
http://www.diabetes.ca

Canadian Podiatric Medical Association
http://www.podiatrycanada.org

 

References


Andersen CA, Roukis TS. The diabetic foot. Surg Clin North Am. 2007;87:1149-1177.


Bakker K, Apelqvist J, Schaper NC; International Working Group on Diabetic Foot Editorial Board. Practical guidelines on the management and prevention of the diabetic foot 2011. Diabetes Metab Res Rev. 2012;225-231.


Diabetic foot ulcer. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated June 30, 2014. Accessed September 18, 2014.


Frykberg RG. Diabetic foot ulcers: pathogenesis and management. Am Fam Physician. 2002;66:1655-1662.


Leung PC. Diabetic foot ulcers-a comprehensive review. Surgeon. 2007;5:219-231.


Ndip A, Bowling F, Stickings D, Rayman G, Boulton AJ. The Diabetic Foot in 2008: an update from the 12th Malvern Diabetic Foot Meeting. Int J Low Extrem Wounds. 2008;7:235-238.


Nelson EA, O’Meara S, Craig D, et al. A series of systematic reviews to inform a decision analysis for sampling and treating infected diabetic foot ulcers. Health Tech Assess. 2006;10.


Nelson EA, O’Meara S, Golder S, et al. Systematic review of antimicrobial treatments for diabetic foot ulcers. Diabet Med. 2006;23:348-359.


Singh N, Armstrong DG, Lipsky BA. Preventing foot ulcers in patients with diabetes. JAMA. 2005;293:217-228.


2/7/2008 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Armstrong DG, Holtz-Neiderer K, Wendel C, Mohler MJ, Kimbriel HR, Lavery LA. Skin temperature monitoring reduces the risk for diabetic foot ulceration in high-risk patients. Am J Med. 2007;120:1042-1046.


2/7/2008 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Lavery LA, Higgins KR, Lanctot DR, et al. Home monitoring of foot skin temperatures to prevent ulceration. Diabetes Care. 2004;27:2642-2647.


4/8/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Löndahl M, Landin-Olsson M, Katzman P. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy improves health-related quality of life in patients with diabetes and chronic foot ulcer. Diabet Med. 2011;28(2):186-190.

 

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