While everyone cuts or scrapes a foot every now and then, patients with diabetes or other immune disorders are susceptible to foot ulcers. When an open sore develops on the bottom of the foot, this can often lead or hospitalization if left untreated. The most common factor for a foot ulcer is diabetes. Complications related to diabetes such as heart disease, eye disorders, and kidney malfunction are directly correlated to an increase in foot ulcers. If left untreated, foot ulcers can cause significant discomfort, infection, and lead to amputation. Up to 25% of patients with a foot ulcer require amputation and it is the leading cause of non-traumatic amputations in the United States.
Anyone diagnosed with diabetes is at an increased risk for foot ulcers. This is additionally magnified in older men, Native Americans, African Americans, and Hispanic Americans. Also, factors such as obesity, use of tobacco, and excessive use of alcohol can contribute to the development of these ulcers. Typically, a combination of poor circulation, friction, trauma, duration of symptoms, and neuropathy or the lack of feeling in feet can cause distress in the foot and foot ulcers. Additionally, vascular disease and a compromised immune system can reduce healing time and cause an increased risk for complications.
The most effective treatment of foot ulcers and wounds is early detection. When ulcers are diagnosed and treated early, they have the greatest chance of successful treatment and avoiding infection. When foot ulcers are treated, several factors aid in effective care. Hygiene is important as clean skin reduces the chance of contamination. A podiatrist can provide orthotics to remove pressure from the affected area. Skin can be reduced to eliminate undue pressure on the foot. Medications can aid in giving the foot a more secure fit as well as reducing sensitive skin. Any reduction of blood glucose level in the body can cause an improvement in the entire area of the foot.
While most foot ulcers can be treated without surgery, this option may be considered if other treatments are not effective. Bones of the foot may be shaved or sanded down, as well as bone bumps or bunions. If surgery is necessary, healing time may be related to the degree of injury originally received location of the wound, and method of treatment. Healing can be as short as a few weeks or as long as several months depending on these factors.