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Diabetic foot ulcer : symptoms and treatments

Updated on 19 June 2024

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Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects the body’s essential organs, epidermis, and musculoskeletal components.

As a result, poorly regulated blood glucose levels frequently result in the development of a plantar lesion that is diagnosed as a diabetic foot ulcer.

Although ulcers are a common consequence of diabetes, they can be avoided.

Here are the symptoms, causes, and treatments for a diabetic foot ulcer to assist you in avoiding this condition.

Recognizing a diabetic foot ulcer

The feet of a diabetic should always be monitored because of their fragility.

The ulcer usually appears in the following plantar regions:

  • Between the toes or on the outside of the toes;
  • On the top of the foot or in the center of the plantar surface;
  • Near the malleolus;
  • On the large toe’s side;

It is also vital to pay attention to the warning signs of the problem while considering the locations that are prone to develop ulcers.

These can include:

  • A swollen foot;
  • Sharp pain;
  • Redness;
  • A warmth emanating from the area;
  • Bleeding corns or calluses;
  • A wound that does not seem to want to heal;
  • The presence of edema;
  • A foul-smelling or oozing lesion;
  • Repeated ingrown toenails or infected cuticles.

If these symptoms appear in a person with diabetes, it is critical to seek medical help and have the foot examined.

The situation can swiftly deteriorate if the injury is not fully treated, resulting in a variety of complications, such as:

  • Deformity of the foot;
  • An injury that spreads to the ligamentous structures, tendons as well as fascia of the foot;
  • Sepsis in the joints of the foot;
  • Gangrene, which may require amputation of the foot.

The cause of diabetic foot ulcers

High blood sugar destroys neurons and desensitizes the feet over time.

Peripheral neuropathy is the medical term for this condition.

It frequently results in foot deformities such as:

  • Hammer or claw toes;
  • The bunion;
  • The acquired flatfoot.

The impact of diabetes on blood circulation is another one of its negative effects.

In fact, an abnormally high blood sugar level causes the blood vessels to stiffen, resulting in impaired blood circulation.

This decrease in blood flow results in:

  • Cold feet;
  • Wounds that are more difficult to heal;
  • Irregular calf pain;
  • Changes in the appearance of the nails.

The combination of these symptoms weakens the foot’s epidermis, allowing skin breaks such as ulcers to occur.

Risk factors

Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes can cause diabetic foot ulcers.

However, because the second form of diabetes takes longer to diagnose, persons who have it are more likely to develop ulcer complications.

Several factors contribute to the formation of a diabetic foot ulcer, in addition to poor blood sugar control:

  • Shoes that are too tight;
  • Shoes that retain too much moisture;
  • Poor foot hygiene;
  • Shoes that offer little heel support;
  • A fungal infection such as athlete’s foot;
  • A preliminary deformity of the hammer or claw toes;
  • Barefoot running;
  • An untreated fracture;
  • Smoking;
  • Obesity.

Shoes that do not accommodate the characteristics of the foot are at the source of many diabetic foot ulcers.

To resolve this issue, you should visit a podiatrist or orthotist to help decide on the best shoes to wear.

Diabetic foot ulcer prevention

The best preventive measure is, of course, proper blood sugar management.

The task can become more difficult if the nerves in the foot and blood flow are already compromised.

Aside from maintaining healthy blood sugar levels, there are a few more things you may do to avoid a serious diabetic ulcer:

  • Make sure you’re wearing the correct shoe size.
  • Regularly inspect your entire foot, from the soles to the toes.
  • Use a complete foot care routine.
  • Avoid walking without shoes.
  • In the event of an injury, see a doctor or a podiatrist.

Medical treatments

The podiatrist is frequently called upon to intervene in therapeutic treatment due to the location of the ulcer.

The doctor must examine the lesion in the foot in greater detail in order to provide effective care.

They may suggest tests like:

The podiatrist then administers or prescribes the following treatments depending on the severity of the situation:

In cases where the ulcer has grown too large or if the ulcer is infected, the medical team may consider amputation of the toe or foot.

PiedRéseau – Learn more

Are you interested in learning more about diabetic foot ulcers? We write about it on a regular basis!

However, even if the PiedRéseau website provides useful information, nothing beats a real-life clinic appointment.

Take care of your feet, they’re precious!

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