How to Prevent Foot Ulcers
In our last blog, we talked a bit about the advanced techniques and technology we have available to heal your foot wounds—collagen powders, tissue grafts, even laser therapy. These revolutionary treatment methods are greatly improving the odds for wound sufferers, reducing the risk of severe infection, tissue death, and amputation.
However, no treatment method—no matter how advanced—is as good as preventing foot wounds in the first place.
Before we begin, we want to make sure you understand the seriousness of the situation. The five-year mortality rate for people with diabetic ulcers approaches 50%—even worse than several types of cancer. Wounds and infections aren’t just an annoyance. They cost lives, especially if an amputation becomes necessary.
With that in mind, here are some of the most important strategies for preventing diabetic foot ulcers:
- Manage your diabetes This means a healthy diet, exercise, weight management, and most importantly keeping your sugar levels within a healthy range as much as possible.
- Give yourself a complete foot self-exam each and every day. This is important due to the effects of neuropathy. Because your nerve function may be reduced, you may not be able to sense a problem when it occurs. Instead, you’ll need to regularly inspect your feet, by sight and by touch. Look for cuts, bruises, bumps, cracks, blisters, swelling, discoloration, temperature changes—in other words, anything out of the ordinary. See us as soon as possible if you notice any significant injuries, or even minor problems that don’t improve within a few days.
- Keep your feet clean. This defends against cracked skin, infections, and other problems. You’re going to want to use lukewarm water and mild soaps only. When you’re done, make sure you dry your feet thoroughly and apply moisturizer on the tops and bottoms of your feet. Use talcum powder (rather than moisturizer) between the toes.
- Shoes matter. Choose your footwear carefully. Shoes should be comfortable to wear and fit you properly (in length and width). They should be tight enough not to slide around on your foot, but still offer plenty of space for toes to wiggle without feeling crowded or cramped. Proper cushioning and arch support is a must, too. If the shoes themselves can’t offer this, they should be deep enough to accommodate an orthotic insert. Our office can help you get the right pair of diabetic shoes and/or custom orthotics to suit your needs.
- See a foot specialist regularly. If you have diabetes, you should be visiting us at least once per year—sometimes more often depending on your foot health history. We offer nerve and circulatory testing to identify warning signs well before they begin causing serious symptoms. We’ll also provide the kinds of regular maintenance care necessary to keep feet in top shape.
Preventing foot ulcers if you have diabetes doesn’t have to be difficult or take up a lot of your time, but you do have to be focused and consistent! If you are, you have a great chance of keeping healthy, wound-free feet for a lifetime. If you do develop any concerns, or the beginnings of an ulcer, please call Dr. Joel Foster in Lee’s Summit, MO immediately at (816) 246-4222.