PINEHURST – Arthritis and brittle bones cause many seniors to lose mobility. More than one in five people age 60 and older who is living with diabetes has another potential challenge to his/her independence: diabetic foot ulcers that can lead to amputations.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 60 percent of lower-limb amputations that are not caused by trauma occur in people with diabetes. In 2009, nearly 80,000 such amputations changed lives forever.
“The number of patients with diabetes in this country is expected to double in the next half-century,” says David E. Strom, M.D., medical director of the FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital Wound Care & Hyperbaric Center. “It is vital that diabetic patients become actively involved in comprehensive foot care programs to avoid foot problems that can lead to amputations and other adverse outcomes.”
As the nation observes National Diabetes Month in November, the staff of the FirstHealth Moore Regional Wound Care & Hyperbaric Center, a National Healing wound care center, offers these preventive tips for people living with diabetes:
- Leg and foot blood vessels can narrow and harden due to diabetes. You can help fight poor circulation by keeping blood pressure and cholesterol under control. Something as simple as not crossing your legs can also improve blood flow.
- Risk factors are highest for those with longer duration of the disease who use insulin and who smoke. Stop smoking and control glucose levels: An A1c blood test can give you an overview of your average glucose levels and, typically, every percentage point drop in test results can reduce the risk of microvasular complications by 40 percent.
- Ask your health care provider for a thorough foot examination and to add it to your check-up routine for future visits.
- Diabetes can cause reduced sensation in the lower limbs making it hard to know if you have an injury. Check your feet daily and look between your toes for blisters, cuts and scratches. Use an unbreakable mirror for hard-to-see areas or ask someone to help you.
- Changes that diabetes can cause in the skin of your feet include dryness and calluses that occur more often and build up faster. Do not use chemical agents to remove calluses and corns since they can further damage your skin. See a health care professional to remove loose pieces of skin off your feet.
- Wear clean seamless socks and proper footwear. Medicare and many health care providers will reimburse a certain amount of money for shoes and custom inserts prescribed by a doctor.
- Seek medical treatment if a leg or foot wound has not healed in 30 days or shows signs of infection such as increased pain, redness or swelling, foul wound odor, or a change in color or amount of drainage from the wound.
FirstHealth Wound Care and Hyperbaric Center is located at 35 Memorial Drive, Pinehurst. The telephone number is ( 910) 715-5901.