The American Diabetes Association, which has named November as American Diabetes Month, reports that the rate of amputation for people with diabetes is 10 times higher than for people without the disease.
“It has been reported that diabetes-related amputations cost the healthcare system upwards of $3 billion each year. Combine that with the fact that the five-year survival rate after one major lower extremity amputation is about 50 percent,” said Scot Stepleton, Director of the Saint Joseph Wound Healing Center at Plymouth.
The local experts at the SJRMC/Plymouth’s Wound Healing Center, a National Healing Corporation managed wound center, use a multi-disciplinary team approach to help diabetes patients manage their disease and educate family members to increase awareness for those with a hereditary disposition. They offer the following advice:
People with diabetes who have evidence of nerve damage and sensory loss (neuropathy) are at a higher risk for severe, disease-induced foot problems and should pay special attention to their feet.
Comprehensive foot care programs can reduce amputation rates by 45 percent to 85 percent so it is important for diabetics to wear proper footwear, inspect their feet daily and take extra care when trimming nails and treating cuts, scrapes and blisters.
Each year one in 20 people with diabetes will develop a foot ulcer, and up to 24 percent of patients with a foot ulcer will require amputation. Seek medical treatment if a leg or foot wound has not healed in 30 days or shows signs of infection.
People with diabetes can’t properly regulate blood sugar or glucose levels which can damage blood vessels and nerves over time contributing to slower wound healing. The American Diabetes Association has issued nutritional guidelines to help manage the disease.
Rigid cell walls caused by increased glucose levels impede red blood cell permeability and lead to impaired release of oxygen and nutrients into wounds to help them heal. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy enables oxygen molecules to pass from the blood stream to the tissues more easily and has been shown to accelerate healing.
Signs of infection that require immediate medical attention include increased pain, redness or swelling, foul wound odor or a change in color or amount of drainage from the wound.
For more information on managing diabetes and treating chronic wounds, contact the Saint Joseph Wound Healing Center at Plymouth located at 1919 Lake Ave, Suite 109, Plymouth, IN, or call 574-941-3140.