Recently we’ve started to see the number of people in the US losing their limbs to amputation trend upward. Between 2000 and 2009, the rate of non-traumatic lower body amputations declined from 5.4 surgeries for every 1000 adults down to 3.1 cases. Unfortunately, after 2009 that number began to rise again up to 4.6 cases for every 1000 adults.
Interestingly, the increase is mostly found in young and middle-aged adults. Among adults 45 to 64, the number of amputations increased to 5.4 in every 1000 people in 2015. While it was not directly confirmed by the research, there is a strong correlation between this increase in amputations and rates of diabetes.
If you’re a regular reader of our blogs, you already know that diabetes is one of the greatest risks to limb wellbeing in modern healthcare. In fact, people with diabetes are 10 times more at risk of non-traumatic amputation as the general population. Why? Constricted blood flow affecting the extremities, particularly the feet.
The number one way we would suggest to protect your feet from the growing risk of amputation is to prevent or treat diabetes. That said, while treating diabetes, patients are still at risk for complications. Complications from diabetes, such as Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD), are serious health risks and cannot be taken lightly. We’ve already covered the steps you can take to help keep your feet healthy, but when should you see a medical professional to help prevent greater risks?
Signs of Risk for Diabetics
Swelling and Blisters
This is a broad category, and it is tempting to assume that swelling or blisters on your feet are a temporary symptom. But for diabetics, it’s often a warning sign of worse things to come. We suggest you see a doctor at the first sign of swelling, as this can be a sign of PAD, but at the very least, take some of the preventative measures listed here.
Athlete’s foot and plantar warts are normally conditions that can resolve themselves or can be treated with targeted removal. For those with diabetes and other conditions that restrict blood flow, these infections can escalate much more aggressively because of limited blood flow which can prevent the immune system from fighting the infection. If you have diabetes, don’t wait. See a doctor soon after you notice them.
Cuts or Open Sores
You may notice a running theme here. If you have diabetes, any seemingly minor injury to your foot needs to be treated as a serious and immediate concern. Even small cuts can be serious, but a large cut absolutely requires immediate medical attention. Any time your foot is bleeding, it is crucial that you take care to treat the wound thoroughly and take efforts to prevent any possibility of infection.
Pain or Lack Thereof
We realize foot pain can be common. Of course, if you’ve had a long day on your feet, some minimal foot pain is to be expected. But if pain persists over a number of days or appears suddenly, this may be a sign of PAD, and it is time to seek medical treatment.
On the flip side, lack of blood flow can result in nerve damage that prevents you from feeling pain. If you notice less or no sensation at all in parts of your feet, it is critical to see a medical expert. If you take one thing away from this article, let it be that changes in the sensitivity of your feet are a sign of serious blood flow issues.
Despite current trends, Dr. Lam and his team are continually preventing more and more amputations. When you’re left with few options and feel you have nowhere left to turn, it’s time to see a vascular expert (like our team at Lam Vascular & Associates).
Schedule an initial appointment with us today if you need help better managing your PAD (or are experiencing any symptoms of PAD). Lam Vascular & Associates has convenient locations in Dallas and Rockwall, Texas.
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.