Diabetes and Amputations

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Diabetes causes damage to many different organs and systems in the body. Having high blood sugars over a long period of time can damage nerves, leading to loss of sensation. This often starts in the feet and toes and can make it more likely that patients will get cuts and blisters that are not noticed. Left untreated, a small cut can become infected, and spread into surrounding tissue and bone, causing severe damage and leading to amputation of the leg or foot. This is one of the many unpleasant complications of uncontrolled diabetes. Diabetes is the leading cause of non-traumatic lower limb amputations.

Here are a few things that people with diabetes can do to reduce the risk of needing an amputation:

  • Make sure you doctor checks your feet at least once a year. Let the doctor know if you have any cuts, sores, blisters, corns or calluses, or ingrown toenails. If you have foot problems it might be better to see a podiatrist for treatment.
  • Check your feet every day for cuts, blisters, red spots, swelling, or other problems.
  • Wear shoes and socks all the time. Don’t walk around barefoot. Check inside shoes before putting them on to make sure no foreign objects are inside.
  • Don’t sit with your legs crossed for a long period of time. Move legs up and down while sitting to improve blood flow.
  • Quit smoking, or better yet, don’t ever start. Smoking decreases oxygen supply to the nerves and leads to tissue and nerve damage.
  • Keep your blood sugar controlled. Take your medications, exercise regularly, and avoid foods high in sugar and carbohydrates.

For more information about foot care and diabetes see http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/complications/foot-complications/foot-care.html

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