Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Diabetes Increases Risk of Amputation

About 82,000 legs and feet are amputated each year in the United States because of diabetes. The disease affects 23.6 million people in the USA and increases the risk of lower extremity amputation by 15%.

More than 60% of all non-traumatic lower extremity amputations occur in diabetic patients. Diabetic feet are at risk because of the way the disease influences sensation, blood flow and ability to fight infections through neuropathy and vascular disease.

Many diabetics lose feeling in their feet as a result of nerve damage from poorly controlled blood glucose. Once the patient is without feeling in the bottom of their feet, they will not be able to notice if a sharp object pierces the skin or if the skin otherwise breaks, leaving the foot susceptible to infection.

The best way to prevent amputations is through patient education, preventative care and routine foot evaluations by a physcian. These evaluations recognize risk areas and test for sensitivity and blood flow to the feet. The physciain will then complete a plan for the patient which may include home care tips, follow-up appointments, corn and callus removal or the use of special shoe inserts.

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