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Right now, 6.7 million Americans are living with a chronic wound, and more than 2 million of those are suffering from a diabetic foot ulcer. April is Foot Health Awareness Month and is a great opportunity to highlight the importance of foot health.
Are your feet at risk? Some of the primary risk factors for wounds of the feet include neuropathy, deformity of the foot, history of foot ulceration, absent or diminished pulses and prior amputation.
Those with diabetes should be especially concerned with the health of their feet. Diabetes may cause nerve damage for some people. If this happens, the nerves no longer perceive pain due to numbness and therefore do not alert a person to potential injury. Up to 70 percent of diabetic individuals experience diabetic neuropathy, and up to 25 percent of all diabetics will develop a foot ulcer in their lifetime. An estimated 15 percent of diabetics with a foot ulcer will require an amputation.
In 2010, about 73,000 non-traumatic lower-limb amputations were performed on adults 20 or older with diagnosed diabetes. This accounts for 60 percent of non-traumatic lower-limb amputations. Alarmingly, the mortality rate five years post-amputation is 50 percent.
With foot ulcers preceding 80 percent of non-traumatic lower extremity amputations, the Wilson Wound Healing Center recommends the following foot care techniques to keep your feet healthy:
• Check your feet for red spots, cuts, swelling, blisters, sores or other injuries daily.
• Wash your feet every day and dry them with care, especially between the toes.
• Trim your toenails as needed after you’ve washed and dried your feet.
• Wear properly fitting shoes that do not rub or pinch your feet.
• Always wear socks or stockings with your shoes, and never walk barefoot or while wearing just socks.
• Physical activity can help increase circulation in your feet. Consult your health care team to see which physical activity is right for you.
• Take off your socks at your next check-up, and alert your doctor to any problems with your feet.
Remember, prevention and intervention are key. For more information about proper foot care, diabetic foot ulcers or how we may be able to help avoid amputation, contact the Wilson Wound Healing Center at 1701 Medical Park Drive or 252-399-5302.
The Wilson Wound Healing Center recently received the 2017 Center of Excellence award from Healogics for achieving greater than 92 percent patient satisfaction rate and greater than 91 percent healing rate. For more information, visit www.healogics.com.
Brandi Ross is the program director at the Wilson Wound Healing Center.