If you have diabetes, an unfortunate side effect of this disease can be amputation. No one wants to live with the fear of an amputated limb, so it’s important to reduce your risk by being aware of health issues that can lead to amputation. Diabetes and the risk of amputation

Common Issues That Lead to Amputation

According to the World Health Organization and the International Diabetes Federation, approximately 85 percent of diabetes-related amputations are preventable; however, each year over 82,000 patients have amputation surgery. Doctors agree that following a diabetes diagnosis, there are four conditions that typically lead to an amputation:

  • Neuropathy
  • Ulceration
  • Vascular disease
  • Infection

Diabetes can narrow the blood vessels in the body and reduce healthy circulation in the legs and feet. When this happens, a diabetic patient may develop peripheral neuropathy—a type of nerve damage that brings about a loss of sensation in the hands and feet. If you’re unable to feel pain, you may be unaware of developing foot ulcers or other injuries. If you continue to walk on or irritate a wound, blister, or an ulcer, it can lead to a serious infection.

If an infection is left untreated and spreads to the bone, it could cause irreparable damage and amputation become necessary. The removal of toes, feet, and lower legs is more common among those with diabetes than most other health conditions. However, with proactive, proper self-care, you can limit or prevent your risk of amputation.

Diabetic Self-Care to Avoid Amputation

Most every diabetic patient struggles with symptoms. However, there are factors that put some patients at a higher risk for amputation than others. These include:

  • Poorly maintained blood sugar levels
  • Smoking
  • Severe neuropathy
  • Corns or calluses on the feet
  • Foot deformities
  • Poor blood circulation
  • Foot ulcers
  • Vision impairment
  • Kidney disease
  • High blood pressure

There are ways to help avoid these conditions through two types of self-care: general health maintenance and proactive foot care.

General Health Improvements

When you have diabetes, it is important to stay as healthy as possible. This can make a big difference in how you feel and how equipped your body is to fight infection and battle the more serious issues related to this difficult illness.

Stay healthy by taking these steps:

  • Eat a diet of lean meat, fruits, and vegetables. Avoid sugary drinks and empty calories
  • Reduce stress as much as possible, and incorporate relaxing activities into your daily life
  • Exercise for at least 30 minutes each day
  • Avoid smoking, narcotics, and excessive alcohol consumption
  • Maintain a healthy weight, and check your blood pressure regularly
  • Check your blood sugar levels regularly and adjust accordingly
  • Take insulin and any other medication exactly as directed by your doctor

Proper Foot Care

There are simple ways to care for your feet that can decrease your chance of amputation. These include:

  • Performing a daily check of your foot, looking for wounds, bruises, blisters, and color changes
  • Checking the level of sensation in your feet by using a light object such as a feather
  • Using hot and cold water to ensure you can feel temperature changes
  • Wearing clean socks that aren’t restricting (avoid elastic bands)
  • Keeping your feet moving with simple exercises like wiggles and stretches to encourage blood flow

Are You Looking for a Diabetic Foot Expert in Austin, TX?

If you are looking for diabetic foot care, you should reach out to an experienced podiatristAustin Foot and Ankle Specialists can help. Our office provides a wide variety of advanced, effective treatment options for all kinds of painful conditions. Ready to schedule an appointment? Contact us online or call our Austin office at 512.328.8900.


Craig Thomajan
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Austin Podiatrist
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