Even a small wound on the foot can become a very serious problem if left unchecked. This is especially true if diabetes is affecting the health of your feet.
A diabetic wound on your foot can be like a small fire in your home. If it isn’t taken care of, it can gradually rage out of control and lead to a total loss. You surely wouldn’t wait until the fire reached such a point, and you shouldn’t wait to address any wounds as well!
Why Are Diabetic Wounds So Dangerous?
The greatest amount of risk posed by a diabetic wound comes when it goes unnoticed and is allowed to worsen. This is because diabetes presents two distinct disadvantages.
First, diabetes can cause damage to nerves in the feet (peripheral neuropathy). Eventually, you may lose sensation in your feet. This can leave you unable to feel cuts, sores, and other irritations.
Second, diabetes can reduce circulation, providing less oxygen and nutrients that our cells need to heal. The feet tend to suffer the effects of reduced circulation first. As a result, wounds on the feet tend to heal slower compared to the rest of the body, and they may not even heal at all without proper attention. If the sore remains and becomes worse as one continues to walk on it, it can become a large, deep ulcer with a higher risk of infection and increased risk of amputation.
To help prevent this, you should inspect your feet daily. If you notice anything concerning, you need to call for an appointment immediately.
How We Treat Diabetic Wounds
If you have diabetes, you should never hesitate to report any injuries, sores, or other abnormalities to us; and you should be looking for them every day!
We take diabetic wounds very seriously at Northwood Foot and Ankle. There is no “minimum size” or “minimum condition” you must have to see us. We want to be informed any time you find a wound on your feet, and we will get you in as soon as possible to treat it.
When you come in for a diabetic wound, we evaluate several important factors.
- How is your circulation? – Is there adequate blood flow to the area of the wound, which will encourage healing?
- Is the wound infected? – If so, we may take a culture and order lab tests to determine the type of infection that is present. Antibiotics will also be prescribed, and X-rays may also be taken to determine whether an infection has reached the bone.
- Is there a problem with foot structure? – An abnormal foot structure can cause excess stress to be placed on certain areas of the foot, making them more likely to develop wounds. Custom orthotics or a “surgical” shoe may be recommended to offload weight from an area in need of healing. Specific treatments may also be recommended to address certain deformities that are causing problems.
We are also interested in your general health, including nutrition and activity level. Tight management of blood sugar levels will play a significant role in the healing process.
Wound care treatment will always include debridement of the wound. This means removing dead tissue, infected tissue, and anything else that could get in the way of the wound healing. Depending on the state of the wound, we may also recommend more frequent appointments to monitor the progress of the wound and keep it clean.
There is also always an at-home element of wound care. You will likely be required to change the dressing of your wound, most often on a daily basis. A wide range of prescription and over-the-counter ointments, creams, and dressings are available for this purpose, and we will recommend or prescribe the best for your specific situation. In some cases, a skin graft or substitute may be used to cover the wound as well.
The Best Care is Prevention
Even better than putting out a fire before it takes down your home is preventing that fire from ever happening in the first place! With diligent attention and regular preventative care, you can keep diabetic wounds from becoming a major concern.
Northwood Foot and Ankle Center is happy to be a partner in your diabetic care. We serve patients from offices in Holland and St. Joseph and are always happy to talk with new and returning patients alike. Schedule an appointment by calling (616) 393-8886 or filling out our online contact form.