One of the most common complications associated with diabetes is foot problems such as ulcers, infections, and lesions. These issues are bad enough in and of themselves, but they can also lead to a host of other problems, including amputation.
But how common is amputation among women and men with diabetes? What causes it? And when is amputation necessary in diabetics? We’ll answer these questions and more below.
Issues that commonly result in amputation
What causes amputation in diabetics? The majority of the time, amputations result from untreated nerve damage or prolonged periods of poor circulation, both of which can result in serious foot injuries, severe infections, and gangrene, which may require amputation.
Diabetic peripheral neuropathy is a complication of diabetes that occurs when mismanaged blood glucose levels damage your nerves. Some of the most common symptoms associated with neuropathy are pain, tingling, and burning sensations in the legs, feet, hands, and arms.
If allowed to progress to later stages, neuropathy will eventually result in a total loss of sensation and complete numbness in the hands and feet. This condition makes it more likely for a person to unknowingly develop serious wounds, ulcers, infections, or other problems that may require amputation if not cared for immediately.
Peripheral artery disease (PAD)
PAD is a disease that causes circulation issues. This condition is characterized by narrow arteries, reduced blood flow, and plaque buildup. Like neuropathy, PAD can cause weakness, tingling, and pain in the lower limbs, prolong the healing process, and cause numbness and a loss of feeling in the extremities. Again, like neuropathy, these symptoms make it more likely that a wound will go unnoticed and uncared for and eventually require amputation.
Why amputation is frequently a necessity in diabetics
According to a 2018 article published in AJMC, around 230 American diabetics undergo amputation each day, while an even earlier source estimates that across the world, a leg is amputated every 30 seconds and that the majority of these amputations are the result of ulcers. Finally, diabetics are 15 times more likely to require amputation than non-diabetic patients.
Amputations are performed as a last resort in instances where there is no saving the extremity and no other way to treat the problem. Severe infections and gangrene are two of the most common instances in which amputating a limb becomes necessary.
Ulcers and other wounds are one of the main causes of amputations. A diabetic patient with PAD or neuropathy who experiences a wound on their foot or leg may not recognize it, not only failing to treat it but also putting more pressure on it. This, coupled with the fact that the wound will be slow to heal, can eventually cause serious tissue damage or even tissue death, also known as gangrene.
Irreparable tissue damage and spreading infections may require amputation, especially if these issues are located in the toes, feet, or lower legs.
How to prevent the need for amputation
As a diabetic, one of the best ways to protect your feet and your health is to carefully manage your blood sugar levels. Healthy eating, an active lifestyle, and consistent monitoring are all required to keep your blood glucose levels in the proper range.
In addition to managing your overall condition, there are several things you can do solely to protect your feet and reduce the risk of requiring amputation.
- Always wear socks and properly fitted shoes to help protect your feet from wounds, infections, and damage.
- Wash and carefully dry your feet every day. Use lukewarm water and rub your feet gently with a pumice stone to prevent rough and calloused skin. Keep your skin dry and properly moisturized.
- Inspect your feet and legs carefully at least once a day. Check for problem areas such as red skin, cracks, blisters, wounds, dry or itchy patches, or other abnormal elements.
- Make regular visits to your podiatrist. Go to a professional for care if you notice any calluses, warts, corns, or other issues on your feet.
- Keep your toenails trimmed straight across and filed to prevent sharp points.
Viasox: everyday protection for your feet
Diabetic feet can be prone to foot problems; however, many common foot issues can be prevented with the proper care. One of the most important things that you can do to protect your feet and manage foot pain is to invest in a good pair of socks, like the ones here at Viasox.
Our ultra-comfy, supremely stretchy socks are designed to cushion and protect your feet whether you’re at home or on the go. Made from antibacterial, moisture-wicking fabric, these socks also offer protection against fungus and infections that can lead to serious complications.Our non-binding diabetic socks and compression socks are available in a wide array of styles, patterns, and lengths, making it easy for you to find the perfect pair. Shop online with us today to discover our entire collection, or reach out to us today with any questions, comments, or concerns and we’ll be happy to assist.