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What Makes Diabetic Foot Ulcers So Serious, and How Can Doctors Prevent Them?

Diabetic individuals often have additional medical conditions to contend with. One such condition is a diabetic foot ulcer. Diabetic foot ulcers can develop into serious medical events and may lead to amputation of the affected foot.

Given the potentially debilitating effects of this condition, it’s vital for podiatrists to help patients prevent diabetic foot ulcers from occurring. Learn more about diabetic foot ulcers and what you can do if you are suffering from one.

What Is a Diabetic Foot Ulcer?

A diabetic foot ulcer is an open wound that occurs in approximately 15% of diabetic individuals. About 6% of diabetic foot ulcers will get infected and require hospitalization. Sometimes, a diabetic foot ulcer will require the affected foot to be amputated. In fact, 85% of all diabetes-related amputations result from foot ulcers. This can be an extremely traumatic event for a patient, particularly because most diabetic foot ulcers can be prevented.

Most of the time, foot ulcers develop from a combination of factors including poor circulation, friction, pressure, and trauma. The reason why diabetic individuals, in particular, are more susceptible to foot ulcers is that they may suffer from neuropathy, or a reduced ability to feel pain in the feet due to nerve damage caused by high blood glucose levels. This can cause a diabetic individual not to be aware of a potentially dangerous condition developing in their foot.

Since pain is often not a symptom of foot ulcers due to neuropathy, diabetic individuals should keep an eye out for these other symptoms:

  • Drainage on socks
  • Redness and swelling
  • Odor

a person holding their foot

How Podiatrists Can Prevent and Treat Diabetic Foot Ulcers

Podiatry is a field of medicine devoted to the study, diagnosis, and treatment of disorders of the foot, ankle, and lower extremities. Those suffering from a diabetic foot ulcer will often visit a podiatrist for treatment. Additionally, those at a high risk of developing foot ulcers may visit a podiatrist for prevention strategies.

In terms of prevention, podiatrists should see high-risk patients regularly. During these regular appointments, podiatrists should recommend the patient take the following preventative measures:

  • Cut out aggravating factors, including smoking, drinking alcohol, and eating high cholesterol foods.
  • Wear the appropriate shoes and socks.
  • Check feet regularly for potential warning signs.

If a diabetic ulcer does form, a podiatrist must diagnose the condition in a timely manner and recommend an appropriate treatment, such as:

  • Take pressure off the affected area, also known as “off-loading.”
  • Remove dead skin and tissue, also known as “debridement.”
  • Apply medication or dressings to the wound.

A podiatrist’s failure to diagnose or treat a diabetic foot ulcer can have devastating consequences, such as the amputation of the affected foot. This can leave a patient with severe physical and psychological trauma.

a doctor examining a patient's foot

Suffered Due to Podiatrist Malpractice? Contact Us Today

Diabetic individuals require specialized care, including adequate prevention and treatment of foot ulcers. If you or someone you love has suffered an injury due to the negligent treatment of a diabetic foot ulcer, our Baltimore medical malpractice attorneys are here to help.

We’re well-versed in this area of the law, and we have helped countless clients recover fair compensation after suffering from medical malpractice.

Call Brown & Barron, LLC at (410) 698-1717 to schedule a free consultation.

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