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Diabetes and Wounds: Caring for Sores

Avoid amputation with the prevention and early treatment of skin sores.

Diabetes and Wounds: Getting Timely Treatment continued...

And calluses, which are precursors to foot ulcers in many diabetic patients, should be considered -- and treated -- just as seriously.

"Diabetic foot wounds can develop complications rapidly," explains Buehrer. "I'll see patients who tell me that they scratched their foot in the garden and everything seemed fine, and then they woke up two days later to find it horribly swollen. Early intervention is always better."

Once you go in to see the doctor about your foot sore, he or she may do several things:

  • Test that you have a good blood circulation to the area. This is called an ankle brachial index.

If the ankle brachial index is 0.9 or less, you should see a vascular surgeon to determine if intervention is necessary. "An ankle brachial index of 0.9 or below could point to a 50% occlusion of a major artery."

  • Cleaning a foot sore is a process known as debridement. The doctor can culture the area to check the type of bacteria that may be present.

"Looks can be extremely deceiving in a person who has diabetes and a foot ulcer," Brem says.

  • Offload your foot. This means putting it in a special custom-designed support boot -- such as the Cam Walker or Air Calf Boot. "This may be bulky, but it's absolutely necessary until you heal," says Brem. "If everyone did these steps, amputations would decrease by 90%."

Diabetes and Wounds: Putting the Specialists Out of Business

"If everyone followed these steps, I'd be out of business," says Brem. "I'm begging you -- put me out of business. Most amputations can be avoided through prevention and early treatment."

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Reviewed on June 18, 2007

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