Diabetic foot is characterized by ulceration or destruction of the tissue of the foot, infected or not, due to peripheral neuropathy.

Peripheral neuropathy is defined by:

  • loss of sensitivity in the feet due to nerve damage
  • reduced natural hydration of the foot resulting in dryness, cracks, and calluses
  • bony foot deformities resulting in the appearance of pressure points

All of these conditions are the basis for diabetic foot ulcers.

Amputation: a consequence of diabetic foot

Untreated or neglected diabetic foot can lead to amputation. The combination of the following 3 factors leads in the majority of cases to gangrene and eventually amputation:

  • ulceration
  • poor blood circulation
  • presence of infection

A portion of diabetic individuals presenting with a foot ulcer also suffer from poor blood circulation in the legs, which creates a lack of oxygen supply to the foot. This problem delays wound healing and increases the risk of infection.

The good news

Fortunately, diabetes treatment has evolved significantly over the years, and current treatments allow diabetic individuals to better control the disease, making amputations increasingly rare.

Caring for your feet

By taking proper care of your feet, you can avoid worsening the problem and amputation.

Scientific organizations recommend that the feet of diabetic individuals be examined at least once a year by a doctor (or several times a year in the case of lower limb neuropathy).

The diabetic person should also inspect their feet daily (using a mirror or with the assistance of another person to view the sole of the foot) for:

  • cuts
  • blisters
  • bruises
  • color changes
  • swelling
  • open sores

In the presence of existing blood circulation problems or loss of sensation in the lower limbs, it is important to be even more vigilant.

A foot care nurse, podiatrist, or doctor should be contacted promptly (within 48 to 72 hours) at the slightest anomaly.

Tips to reduce the risk of injury

Several studies have shown that the majority of complications leading to amputation in the foot are preceded by a minor injury. To reduce the risks, make sure to:

  • wear appropriate shoes
  • properly trim your nails
  • avoid walking barefoot
  • avoid excessive foot soaking

Refer to our article on foot care for further advice.

Diabetes and Foot Care, brochure available in the boutique in packs of 25.