Arthritis and brittle bones cause many seniors to lose mobility. More than one in five people, age 60 and older, are living with diabetes. These individuals have another potential challenge to their independence: diabetic foot ulcers that can lead to amputations.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 60 percent of lower-limb amputations, not caused by trauma, occur in people with diabetes. In 2004, nearly 71,000 such amputations changed people’s lives forever.
“Amputation rates can be reduced by up to 85 percent by implementing a comprehensive foot care program that encourages preventative behavior and good healthcare habits,” said Scott Covington, M.D., F.A.C.S., C.H.W.S., corporate medical director for National Healing Corporation, which manages outpatient wound care centers for hospitals across the nation.
- The Mercy Wound Healing and Hyperbaric Medicine Center, a National Healing managed wound center, offers these preventative tips:
- Leg and foot blood vessels can narrow and harden due to diabetes. Help fight poor circulation by keeping blood pressure and cholesterol under control. Something as simple as not crossing your legs can also improve blood flow.
- Risk factors are highest for those with longer duration of the disease who use insulin and who smoke. Stop smoking and control glucose levels – an A1c blood test can give you on overview of your average glucose levels and, typically, every percentage point drop in test results can reduce the risk of microvascular complications by 40 percent.
- Ask your healthcare provider for a thorough foot examination and to add it to your check-up routine for future visits.
- Diabetes can cause reduced sensation in the lower limbs making it hard to know if you have an injury. Check your feet daily and look between your toes for blisters, cuts and scratches. Use an unbreakable mirror for hard to see areas or ask someone to help you.
- Changes that diabetes can cause in the skin of your feet include dryness and calluses which occur more often and build up faster. Do not use chemical agents to remove calluses and corns since they can further damage your skin. See a healthcare professional to remove loose pieces of skin off your feet.
- Wear clean seamless socks and proper footwear. Medicare and many health care providers will reimburse a certain amount of money for shoes and custom inserts prescribed by a doctor.
- Seek medical treatment if a leg or foot wound has not healed in 30 days or shows signs of infection such as increased pain, redness or swelling, foul wound odor or a change in color or amount of drainage from the wound.
The Mercy Wound Healing and Hyperbaric Medicine Center treats patients with diabetes who have developed chronic wounds due to complications from the disease. For more information, contact the Mercy Wound Healing and Hyperbaric Medicine Center at (530) 245-4801.
-from press release
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