A diabetic foot ulcer is an open sore or wound on the foot of a person with diabetes, most commonly located on the plantar surface, or bottom of the foot. Diabetic foot ulcers occur in approximately 15% of persons with diabetes. Of those who develop a foot ulcer, 6% will be hospitalized due to infection or other ulcer-related complication. The risk of foot ulceration and limb amputation increases with age and the duration of diabetes.
Diabetes is the leading cause of non-traumatic lower extremity amputations. Between 14-24% percent of patients with diabetes who develop a foot ulcer will require an amputation, and foot ulceration precedes 85% of diabetes-related amputations. The good news is that a foot ulcer is preventable if the underlying conditions causing it, diabetic peripheral neuropathy and/or peripheral arterial disease, are appropriately diagnosed and treated.
Many non-infected foot ulcers are treatable without surgery. However, surgery may be required to:
- Remove pressure on the affected area, including shaving or excision of bone(s).
- Correct deformities, such as hammertoes, bunions, or bony “bumps.”
- Treat infections such as osteomyelitis, an infection of the bone, by surgically removing the infected bone.
Healing time may range from weeks to several months, depending on:
- Wound size and location
- Pressure on the wound from walking or standing
- Degree of swelling
- Issues with proper circulation
- Blood glucose levels
- What treatments are being applied to the wound
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