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Diabetic Amputations A ‘Shameful Metric’ Of Inadequate Care | Kaiser Health News
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If a person has neuropathy and loses feeling in their foot, they may be less likely to notice mild foot or leg ulcers before they become severe. Due to circulation issues, particularly peripheral artery disease PAD , these ulcers may not heal, which can lead to infection and death of the tissue and, potentially, to lower limb loss.
Although people with diabetes have an increased risk of amputations, it is possible to prevent most diabetes-related amputations by wearing proper footwear and taking good care of the feet. Diabetes is a significant cause of lower limb loss. According to the American Diabetes Association , worldwide, a person loses a limb due to diabetes-related complications every 30 seconds.
A study found that foot ulcers occur in 4—10 percent of people with diabetes. When foot ulcers do occur, the majority have a good outlook:. According to the National Diabetes Statistics Report , , adults had lower extremity amputations relating to diabetes in This number equates to five out of every 1, people with diabetes. Not everyone with diabetes will need an amputation. If a person with diabetes does require this procedure, it is likely to be due to a wound or ulcer that did not heal on the foot or lower leg. Most amputations are progressive, which means that a doctor will start by removing the smallest possible amount of tissue.
If either the surgery wound does not heal or blood flow does not go to the limb properly, they may recommend further surgery to remove more tissue. People living with diabetes should pay extra attention to their feet because they have an increased risk of wounds not healing, potentially making amputation necessary. Some of the signs and symptoms that a person should look out for and see their doctor about include:.
If any of these symptoms are present, a person should speak to their doctor to determine a course of action. The treatment options will depend on how severe the symptoms are and what is causing the issues. It is important that a person examines their feet regularly to identify potential problems as early as possible.
A doctor will aim to treat the issues before they become severe. There are several things that a person can do to prevent the need for limb amputation.
Two particular areas to focus on are blood sugar maintenance and proper foot care. Another important preventive step is to take good care of the feet, which a person can do by taking the following action:. In addition to diabetes, other risk factors can increase a person's likelihood of needing an amputation. These include:. People living with diabetes have an increased risk of lower limb amputation. Wounds or ulcers that do not heal are the most common cause of amputation among people with this condition.
Other factors, such as high blood sugar levels and smoking, can increase the risk of foot-related complications, including amputation. People can take preventive measures by taking care of their feet, controlling their blood sugar levels, and promptly treating any issues with their feet. Eating a balanced diet, doing regular exercise, and maintaining a healthy weight will also help prevent amputation from becoming necessary.
What is an amputation?
Article last reviewed by Wed 3 April Visit our Diabetes category page for the latest news on this subject, or sign up to our newsletter to receive the latest updates on Diabetes. All references are available in the References tab. Alexiadou, K. Management of diabetic foot ulcers. Diabetes [Fact sheet]. Foot complications.