Diabetic foot Complications

Diabetics are at high risk of developing foot ulcers, gangrene, infection which may eventually lead to leg amputation if treatments are not sought early. Approximately 25% of diabetics will develop a foot wound in their lifetime. Every year, more than one million of leg amputations are performed globally because of diabetes, which is equivalent to one leg amputation every 30 seconds.

Many factors can lead to diabetic foot complications:

  1. Diabetic neuropathy- Poorly controlled diabetes can lead to nerve damage in the feet and This can result in:
    1. Poor sensation in the feet- You might not feel pain and aware of any injury in the foot and the wound could get worse and become infected
    2. Foot deformities- Structural changes in the foot and limited joint mobility can result in focal areas of high pressure on the sole. Skin can breakdown over pressure points leading to ulceration.
    3. Decreased sweating- Dry skin can lead to skin cracking
  2. Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) – Diabetics are at increased risk of atherosclerosis which narrows the blood vessels of the leg and within the foot. Poor blood supply to the foot will lead to poor healing and gangrene.
  3. Immunocompromised- Poor immune system reduces the ability to combat infection. Small injuries to the foot such as cuts, blisters and ingrown toenails can become infected easily if left untreated. The combination of neuropathy, PAD and poor immunity is responsible for the increased risk of developing foot complications such ulcers, gangrene and infection which may eventually lead to leg amputation if treatment is not sought early.

    Here are some statistics of diabetic peripheral arterial disease:

    • 70% of diabetic wounds have associated Peripheral Arterial Disease
    • Risk of recurrent ulcers are greater than 50% after 3 years.
    • Two-thirds of elderly patients undergoing amputation do not return to independent life
    • About 70% of amputees will die within 5 years

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