The majority of amputations that take place in America each year are due to vascular disease (54%) followed by amputations caused by trauma (45%) and then those due to cancer (2%). The overwhelming majority of amputations are lower limb amputations (65%) as opposed to upper limb (35%).
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of amputation and preserve your limbs. Here are a few helpful tips to keep in mind:
1. Pay Attention to Your Body
The need for an amputation doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, there are several warning signs individuals with diabetes or PAD can watch out for. Most notably, neuropathy, which is a feeling of numbness in any limbs. You’ll also want to be on the lookout for any calluses or cracks. If left untreated, these can become infected. Finally, redness and pus may also be indicators of tissue death that might require amputation. Pain can be helpful as it shines a spotlight on potential problems, so you should pay attention to any aches or random soreness in your limbs.
2. Protect Your Feet
Lower extremity amputations are by far the most common type. That’s why it’s so important to take care of your feet. The simplest solution is to wear proper footwear at all times, which can help in preventing injury and exposure to the elements. Shoes should be firm and secure on your feet but not restrict blood flow or sensation. It’s also equally important to clean your feet, removing dead skin and harmful bacteria. Finally, cut toenails once a week. This will minimize the possibility of fungal infections and damage associated with ingrown nails.
3. Increase Blood Flow
Amputations are most often the result of diminished blood flow in one limb or section of the body. It only makes sense, then, that you’d want to take steps to ensure you maintain some level of regularity. According to Diabetes Health, smoking is one of the leading causes of restricted blood flow. Everyone should avoid tobacco products – but if you are diabetic or have PAD, especially so. Regular exercise also improves circulation, and something as simple as a daily bike ride can have a positive impact.
4. Prioritize Proper Wound Care
As mentioned above, diabetic patients should be especially careful of open wounds. Because the possibility for infection is so high, individuals need to rely on professional medical care and advanced wound care products to minimize the overall risk.
Dr. Russell Lam and Dr. Cassidy Duran of Lam Vascular and Associates see many individuals who have been told an amputation is their only option. The truth is, that’s not always the case. Lam Vascular and Associates specializes in second opinion evaluations and has saved thousands of limbs for thousands of patients who thought an amputation was inevitable.
Having performed over 10,000 complex peripheral interventions, Dr. Lam is credited with preventing thousands of leg amputations. Many of these interventions have been the result of patients who sought a second opinion after being told their conditions are inoperable or not treatable with medical therapies.
Dr. Lam invites you to schedule an appointment for an in-office second opinion evaluation.
The information contained in this article is not intended to be used as a substitute for medical advice. Patient results will vary based on risk factors, age, disease and medical history and are not guaranteed in any way.