Follow These 10 Steps To Prevent An Amputation
Hello, it’s Dr. Bill Releford from The Releford Foot and Ankle Institute “Where amputation is not always the answer”. Welcome to this educational series called “10 Steps To Preventing Amputation”
One of the complications associated with diabetes is amputation. This is usually the result of several medical conditions working synergistically. One condition is peripheral artery disease PAD which leads to the narrowing of blood vessels and therefore causes a reduction in blood supply to the feet. The second condition is neuropathy, which is a condition in which the nerves die and one cannot feel pain or other sensations. With the reduced blood flow, the body’s ability to heal wounds is reduced and tissue damage may occur. This combined with the neuropathy leads to wounds that are painless and hence may go unnoticed. When this happens and the wound becomes too large, amputation is often recommended. This is a medical procedure in which the foot is removed. Fortunately, amputation is preventable. Studies estimate the number of preventable amputations at 75%. With the amputation rates being higher in African Americans and Latinos, these groups should be particularly vigilant about education to prevent amputation.
As a podiatric surgeon and medical director here at the Releford Foot and Ankle Institute, I have used my knowledge and extensive experience to come up with 10 steps to amputation prevention. Now let us look at what the 10 steps are. Follow these steps religiously and your feet will be safe from amputation.
- Do not smoke
Smoking has been shown to increase the risk of developing ulcers on lower limbs. This is because the nicotine increases the risk of peripheral artery disease aka PAD.
- Exercise daily
A daily exercise regime is perhaps one of the most important things in a diabetic’s life. You need to keep fit to help control the blood sugar and ensure all parts of the body are supplied with enough blood. With a good blood supply, ulcers will not develop easily and if they do, there’s a better chance they will heal.
- Control cholesterol levels
Excess cholesterol tends to accumulate in blood vessels and therefore reduces the amount of blood that flows in them. With reduced blood flow wounds heal very slow and can put you at risk of infection and amputation.
- After bathing dry the area in between toes
Moisture and warmth are ideal conditions fungi can cause skin irritation and secondary infections. The 4th interspace (space in between the 4th and 5th toes) is the most common route of infection. Keeping this area clean and dry is very important for the diabetic.
- Control diabetes and blood pressure
Managing your diabetes and blood pressure are very important in reducing the risk of amputation. Over time, diabetes and blood pressure that is not well controlled can damage tiny blood vessels that feed the skin of the feet and legs. This can put you at risk of amputation.
- Wear shoes made from natural sources
Shoes made of nylon, plastic, and other artificial materials will cause the feet to sweat which encourages the growth of bacteria and fungi which can cause skin irritations, sores, and infections. Wear shoes made of soft leather, calfskin or suede. These natural materials conform to the shape of your feet over time.
- Don’t pick or pull skin from the feet
As a diabetic, know that your feet are delicate and should not be exposed to unnecessary force. Pulling and picking skin can lead to small tears in the skin which can become infected and lead to amputation.
- Eat a lot of fruits and vegetables
With over 30 years experience in preventing amputations, Dr. Bill Releford recommends eating at least 5 colors of fresh vegetables and fruits.
- Leave foot care to a podiatrist
When you want to trim calluses and cut toenails you better leave the professionals to do the job. This will help you avoid any injuries you may cause in the process.
- Never walk barefoot
Whether indoors or outdoors, you are advised to never walk barefoot as this exposes you to things that may cause sores. These range from physical injuries to bacterial infections.
Contact the Releford Foot and Ankle Institute if you or a loved one has been recommended for amputation.