Spotlight: Pro-active Developments in Preventing Foot Ulcers
people with diabetes, preventing foot ulcers from developing is a major, daily
goal. Diabetic foot ulcers are the main cause of foot amputation in the U.S.
Research shows that about half of the diabetic foot ulcers that do develop
become infected. Twenty percent of those lead to amputation. And government
statistics show that 70 percent of the people who have their feet amputated
experience a rapid decline in their health. Many die within five years.
Amputation can be very difficult to recover from psychologically, and it also
tends to place a strain on your heart.
New tools for prevention,
developments in foot care for people with diabetes will make it easier to
know—early on—when an ulcer is likely to develop:
- A “smart shoe.”
The shoe would contain a sensor that uses fiber optic technology to monitor
stress changes in the foot, and then apply the correct amount of pressure to
that area to relieve the stress.
- A thermometer for the bottom of the foot. This
special thermometer makes it easy to measure the temperature of the skin on
the bottom of your feet. If either foot is warmer than 90 degrees, or if one
foot is warmer than the other one, it’s time to call your doctor, because
those are the signs that you’re developing an ulcer.
to talk with your diabetes educator or your doctor about when these new devices
will be available to you, whether your insurance will cover any of the cost,
Routine, daily foot
inspections still extremely important
are many things doctors have been recommending for years for people with
diabetes, and these things are as important now as they’ve ever been. They
Check your shoes every time
you put them on to make sure there aren’t any loose objects in them. If you have
any nerve damage at all, you may not be aware that something’s
in there, which can result in a cut or sore.
doctor if you notice changes in the skin color of your feet.
doctor if you notice any swelling
feet carefully every day. If you have any cuts or sores that haven’t improved
within three days, call your doctor.
doctor if you notice any numbness, burning or tingling
feet every day in lukewarm water. Be sure to check the temperature of the water
with your hand if you have nerve damage in your feet.
moisturizer on your feet every day.
- Don’t soak
your feet, because that tends to dry out the skin, which increases the chance
that it will crack and develop a sore or cut.
barefoot, even in the house.
indication other problems may be present
people with diabetes begin to develop foot complications, that’s often a sign
that other problems, such as heart disease, are present as well. If your
diabetes has reached this point, your doctor may talk with you about starting
medication that can help you manage heart disease. More frequent checks of your
kidney function and your eyes may also become necessary.
Journal of Rehabilitation Research and
Development, May/June 2005; The New York Times, “New Priority: Saving Feet of
Diabetics,” 30 August 2005