Diabetic foot ulcers are an unfortunate, but also preventable, condition. It’s common for them to become infected. It’s expensive to take care of diabetic foot ulcers. They account for nearly one-third of all diabetes treatment costs.
Diabetic foot ulcers can require immobilization to heal. You could lose much enjoyment of your life because you’re much less mobile than before. And while they don’t guarantee amputation of your foot, they are a common first step to that happening.
So, if you can avoid getting a diabetic foot ulcer, it’s definitely in your best interest. And until recently, they haven’t been thoroughly researched or understood.
Clearly, it’s helpful to know what causes diabetic foot ulcers so you can prevent them from happening in the first place. So take a minute to learn more about them and their causes:
They’re actually fairly common for people with diabetes. One study in the United Kingdom found diabetic foot ulcers can occur at a rate of 15% during the lifetime of any person with diabetes. Another study found they occur at a rate of 4% to 10% in people diagnosed with diabetes mellitus.
In terms of frequency, diabetic foot ulcers are fairly common.
Ideally, you live a healthy lifestyle so you don’t get diabetes in the first place. Excess body fat stored around your abdomen can be a cause of type 2 diabetes. Regular exercise, eating a healthy diet, limiting processed foods and alcohol, and quitting smoking help you avoid getting diabetes. Diabetic shoes, offloading inserts and pads, orthotics, quarterly visits to your podiatrist to check for lesions, and surgeries can also help with prevention too.
Diabetic foot ulcers can cause a large amount of pain and suffering. But, you don’t have to experience any of that if you take proper preventative action.
Diabetic foot ulcers have a couple additional causes which make them more likely. Neuropathy, which is simply where your nerves are damaged or disrupted, happens as a birth defect or as a result of many other diseases (including diabetes) after the age of 55. Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT) is the most common form of neuropathy, as it affects 1 in 2,500 people in the US.
Neuropathy also leads to numbness in your legs and feet. Since you can’t feel pressure on your feet, calluses and blisters often result more frequently. You may also not notice when you step on sharp objects. Neuropathy also affects the muscles in your feet, which leads to deformities in your muscles and toes.
Physical deformities in your foot can also aggravate diabetic foot ulcers. This can include things like hammer toe, bunions, bone spurs, poor fitting shoe wear, and exostosis (growth of bone or cartilage). They can put pressure on the ulcer, increasing the pain and discomfort it causes. Surgery may be necessary to relieve these conditions and the pressure they put on your diabetic foot ulcer.
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