Diabetic foot disease — or diabetic neuropathy — refers to circulatory and nerve problems affecting the feet of those with diabetes.
Some of these diabetic foot problems may include:
Diabetes itself does not inevitably lead to diabetic foot disease. Chronic high blood sugar levels, demonstrated by hemoglobin A-1 C levels higher than eight over many years, lead to nerve damage to the feet.
Among those with diabetes, your risk for diabetic neuropathy is greater if you:
Diabetes can damage your nerves and reduce blood flow to your feet. This may make it harder to notice if you have sustained some sort of minor foot injury, like a blister or a sore.
A minor injury can escalate to a more serious diabetic foot infection, which may require amputation.
Because of this, those with diabetes are 25 times more likely to lose a leg than those without the disease.
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Diabetic neuropathy — or diabetic foot disease — can evolve over time or, in some cases, even just years after an initial diagnosis of diabetes.
Because of the nature of the disease, some of the minor symptoms can progress into more serious problems.
Most people with diabetic foot disease do not feel a great deal of pain.
More common diabetic foot disease symptoms may include:
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends a yearly total foot exam for all those with diabetes.
Your doctor or other specialist can conduct the exam. He or she will check for bone skin imperfections and abnormalities, which are often precursors to diabetic foot disease or diabetic neuropathy.
To confirm a diagnosis of diabetic foot disease, your doctor will fully review your:
Common tests for monitoring or diagnosing diabetic foot disease include:
Since diabetic foot disease has no known cure, treatments at UPMC Orthopaedic Care aim to:
Our doctors use a range of treatments in cases of diabetic foot disease or diabetic neuropathy, including:
Medications for diabetic foot disease may include pain relievers, like anti-seizure medications, and antidepressants.
While these medications are often used for treating other conditions, they have been proven to help with nerve pain.
The two most common nonsurgical treatments are casting and custom shoes.
Casting can help protect the foot and ankle bones while reducing swelling.
During casting treatment for diabetic neuropathy:
Custom shoes can help:
Orthopaedic experts at UPMC often advise surgical treatment methods for patients that:
Some of the more common surgical strategies for diabetic foot disease include:
Treatments for diabetic foot disease, when implemented quickly, can be effective in preserving and even restoring function. For that reason, it's vital for all people with diabetes to regularly monitor their feet and control sugar intake.
Following any sort of surgery for diabetic foot disease, you will have to avoid all weight bearing activities for about three months.
Failure to follow doctors' orders of this rest period can lead to further problems and related complications.
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