Optimize Your Foot Health to Avoid Chronic Wounds

By: Michael Sears, DPM

Right now, 6.7 million Americans are living with a chronic wound, and more than two million of those are suffering from a diabetic foot ulcer. Are your feet at risk? Some of the primary risk factors for wounds of the feet include neuropathy, deformity of the foot, history of foot ulceration, absent or diminished pulses and prior amputation.

Diabetics should be especially concerned with the health of their feet. Diabetes may cause nerve damage for some people. If this happens, the nerves no longer perceive pain due to numbness and therefore do not alert a person to potential injury. Up to 70 percent of diabetic individuals experience diabetic neuropathy, and up to 25 percent of all diabetics will develop a foot ulcer in their lifetime. An estimated 15 percent of diabetics with a foot ulcer will require an amputation.

In 2010, about 73,000 non-traumatic lower-limb amputations were performed on adults aged 20 years or older with diagnosed diabetes. This accounts for 60 percent of non-traumatic lower-limb amputations. Alarmingly, the mortality rate five years post amputation is 50 percent. With foot ulcers preceding 80 percent of non-traumatic lower extremity amputations, I recommend the following foot care techniques to keep your feet healthy:

  • Check your feet for red spots, cuts, swelling, blisters, sores or other injuries daily.
  • Wash your feet every day and dry them with care, especially between the toes.
  • Trim your toenails, if directed by your physician, after you’ve washed and dried your feet.
  • Wear properly fitting shoes that do not rub or pinch your feet.
  • Always wear socks or stockings with your shoes, and never walk barefoot or while wearing just socks.
  • Physical activity can help increase circulation in your feet. Take off your socks at your next check-up, and alert your doctor to any problems with your feet

Be sure to consult your health care team to see which physical activity is right for you. Remember, prevention and intervention are key.

Board Certified Podiatrist Michael Sears, DPM, is medical director of the Center for Wound Healing at Hackensack Meridian Health Raritan Bay Medical Center. The center’s multi-disciplinary panel of physician specialists provide care for patients on an outpatient basis utilizing a comprehensive healing approach, including diagnostics, customized treatment plans, advanced wound care products, and hyperbaric oxygen therapy. To make an appointment at the center, call 732-324-3152.

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