Unfortunately, during the pandemic, many people have been less likely to get the limb-saving, maybe even lifesaving, care they need. In a recent article from Dr. Ennis, COVID-19 Leads to Increased Amputations, he identifies a 40% to 50% increase in amputations when comparing equal time frames in 2020 versus 2019. Healogics is dedicated to bringing awareness to the importance of screening and early intervention that are essential for preventing diabetic foot ulcers.
What Is Diabetic Neuropathy?
Diabetes is the number one cause of neuropathy. Neuropathy is a condition that damages nerves in the hands and feet. Over 34 million Americans are living with diabetes. More than half are also living with neuropathy.
What Causes Diabetic Neuropathy?
High blood sugar harms blood vessels. It also reduces the ability to deliver blood to nerves, which results in nerve damage. When there is nerve damage, there is also a loss of sensation or feeling. Typically, this occurs in your lower legs, feet and toes. Without the protective feeling of pain, a small wound may go unnoticed and could develop into a diabetic foot ulcer or DFU.
What Are Diabetic Foot Ulcers?
A diabetic foot ulcer is a wound often found on the ball of the foot or toes of people with diabetes. They are formed from calluses that occur more often and build up faster on the feet of people with diabetes. This is because there are high-pressure areas under the foot. Too much callus may mean that you will need therapeutic shoes and inserts. Calluses, if not trimmed, get very thick, break down and turn into ulcers (open sores) known as diabetic foot ulcers. If left untreated, the ulcer grows larger and deeper, another complication of damaged blood vessels and poor circulation. When oxygen-rich blood does not reach the wound, it cannot heal. This can lead to infection, hospitalization and possibly amputation. Learn steps to prevent diabetic foot ulcers with this patient-education download.
How Do You Know If You Have Neuropathy?
Symptoms of neuropathy include tingling, weakness and numbness. If you think you may have nerve damage, a simple, painless test can diagnose your condition. The caring healthcare providers at our Wound Care Centers® use a thin plastic wire to gently tap nerves on your feet and legs to determine the severity of the damage.
Neuropathy cannot be cured. However, you can prevent further damage by improving circulation. Also, you should check for potential wounds every day.
Early Intervention Is Essential
Non-healing diabetic foot ulcers account for up to 85% of diabetes-related amputations. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has worsened this condition, as many patients have delayed wound care. Studies show amputation rates related to diabetic foot ulcers have greatly increased. This is compared with matched time frames from pre-COVID-19 data.
Our Wound Care Centers® have remained open following safety protocols and CDC guidelines. We are committed to providing the specialized wound care our patients need. We also provide resources to help improve patients’ overall health and wellbeing. Find out more at our 2021 The Year of Healing webpage.