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Diabetes & Diabetic Foot - An Overview!

Written and reviewed by
MBBS, MS - General Surgery
Diabetic Foot Surgeon, Mumbai  •  37 years experience
Diabetes & Diabetic Foot - An Overview!

Diabetes can be a life-threatening condition if you do not keep blood glucose levels in control. Suffering from diabetes for a prolonged period can lead to a number of associated diseases in different parts of the body. Diabetic foot is one such condition that diabetes patients suffer from in some instances.

What is diabetic foot?

Diabetes causes degeneration of the nerves in the legs. This is known as diabetic neuropathy, which is a type of diabetic foot. If diabetes adversely affects the blood vessels in your leg, it is also a form of the diabetic foot, known as peripheral vascular disease.

Here is a look at both these forms of diabetic foot in detail-

• Diabetic neuropathy - People who have been suffering from high diabetes for a long time will undergo nerve damage. This nerve damage results in loss of sensation in the leg. Therefore, people suffering from diabetic neuropathy will not be able to feel cuts and bruises on the affected leg.

• Peripheral vascular disease - The second form of diabetic foot is a condition that blocks the blood flow to the extremities of the body, such as the hands and feet. Reduction in the blood flow causes pain, swelling and delay in healing wounds.

Symptoms of diabetic foot:

Here is a look at some of the common symptoms associated with diabetic foot-

• Loss of sensation
Tingling sensation
• Skin discolouration
• Changes in skin temperature
• Blisters and other wounds
• Deformed foot appearance
• Red Streaks

If you suffer from an ulcer because of the diabetic foot condition, you may also experience the following symptoms-

Fever
• Very high blood sugar
• Chills
Shock
• Redness
• Shaking

Treatment for Diabetic Foot:

The diabetic foot can be treated both non-surgically and surgically. Initially, doctors will try to take advantage of the non-surgical methods of treatment. Here is a look at a few common ways to treat diabetic foot without using operative procedures.

• Doctors recommend keeping the ulcer or wound clean. Dressing the wound is also greatly useful in avoiding infection and other complications.
• Doctors may use a cast to reduce the effect of the diabetic foot. This also acts as an immobilization device.
• In case of gangrene due to limited blood flow, doctors will monitor the legs until self-amputation occurs.

However, in most severe cases surgery is the only long-term solution for patients. Here are some surgical methods used to treat diabetic foot.

• Removal of the dead and decaying tissues of the leg
• Amputation surgeries are also common. Depending on the range of effects, doctors may perform an amputation of the toes, feet or the entire leg below the knee.
• If you suffer from Charcot’s Foot due to diabetes, doctors may take advantage of surgery to stabilize the damage to your leg bones.
• Arterial bypass surgeries are essential in case of the peripheral vascular disease.

Surgery is the last resort when it comes to treating diabetic foot. These procedures are only used when all other forms of treatment fail to produce the desired result.

In case you have a concern or query you can always consult a specialist & get answers to your questions!
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