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Diabetic foot ulcers and Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) – How are they linked?

diabetic foot ulcers and diabetes

If you are a diabetic patient your doctor probably would have told you that your foot is that part of your body that needs extra care. Ever wondered why? It is because those with diabetes are particularly at risk of developing a non–healing foot ulcer, which can potentially be life-threatening.

What is a diabetic foot-ulcer?

A wound or sore on the foot of a diabetic patient is a diabetic foot ulcer. If left untreated such ulcers can cause severe damage to tissues and bone. This may lead to surgical removal or amputation of a toe, a part of the leg, or a foot. It is also reported that people who have one or more diabetes-related complications such as retinopathy and nephropathy have a higher risk of having a foot ulcer and amputation.

Due to such dire consequences, it is essential that proper treatment is sought and sufficient care is taken to manage the ulcers as soon as they are noticed.

Patient characteristics certainly affect the risk for ulcers. Access to health care, patient’s lifestyle, the support they have, and their ability to take care of themselves and their feet- all of these can affect their risk.

Some facts about diabetic ulcers:

 A seemingly harmless cut or injury on the leg or foot, small blisters, dry cracked skin, a splinter, or a wound from stepping on a screw or any sharp object – all of these may gradually turn into an ulcer.

 Around 15% – 25% of people with diabetes develop ulcers.

 If you suffer from diabetic peripheral neuropathy, a condition where nerves are damaged due to diabetes, the chances of developing ulcers are more.

Diabetic foot ulcers and PAD :

A non-healing foot ulcer is a symptom of PAD (peripheral arterial disease). Many patients (25% – 30%) with diabetic foot ulcers are found to develop PAD, which is a progressive disease and develops as arteries get clogged with plaque buildup, and affects the blood circulation to the legs. The most common sign that you may have PAD is claudication which is the pain in the back of the legs when you walk.

Poor blood flow in the legs can make it harder for the body to heal from an injury. Thus, peripheral artery disease poses an increased risk to diabetics because superficial skin infections or sores can quickly progress to severe infections of the soft tissues or bone.

Peripheral neuropathy is a condition associated with diabetes and is characterized by weakness or numbness in the feet or toes. This can be extremely dangerous as this condition can mask the early signs of PAD which include painful calves while moving and pain between the toes while at rest.

Hence, it is emphasized that diabetics must regularly attend endovascular screenings, and prevent possible deterioration in the condition.

For more information on diabetes, its associated problems, and treatment options, please call our experts at Avis vascular Centre and schedule your appointment without further delay.

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