Diabetic Foot Care Can Prevent Foot Amputations

President Barack Obama has received some significant criticism in the last couple of weeks for some comments he made related to his health care plan. He suggested that doctors stand to make $30,000 for an amputation. This number is not even close, as it consists of the entire hospital stay. According to an article by the Associated Press, the surgeon's fee is a small fraction...often less than $1,000. But President Obama is correct in assuming that we need a better focus on preventative diabetic foot care.

By far, the most cost effective way to treat diabetic foot complications is to prevent them entirely. Believe it or not, once a complication occurs, such as a foot ulcer, the costs increase exponentially. Once an ulcer forms, it can cost up to $8,000 to treat...$17,000 if it becomes infected! Spending a significantly lower cost to prevent an ulcer from occurring is most certainly ideal!

How can we prevent a diabetic foot complications from forming?  First, every person with diabetes should form an association with a podiatrist for routine foot checkups.  These checks will help to monitor circulation down the legs and into the foot, nerve sensation, and assess risk factors for formation of ulcers and wounds.

Since wounds primarily form in areas of pressure, managing that pressure is incredibly important.  Even Medicare has recognized the value in shoes with insoles that will prevent those pressures from causing problems and cover a pair of shoes and several pair of insoles each year.  The insoles are made of a soft material that redistributes the weight and alleviates areas of pressure.  We, as do many podiatrists, carry lines of diabetic footwear.  Those who do not will refer you somewhere that does.

You can't rely on the podiatrist alone to keep you healthy.  I always recommend that my patients with diabetes perform a quick foot check each evening before bedtime.  What they look for is anything that wasn't there the day before:  redness, bleeding, pus, etc.  For those who cannot pick their feet up to see the bottom, a wonderful mirrored scale is available called the CheckPoint scale.  Its mirrored surface allows you to easily view the bottom of the foot for daily inspection.  This way if you notice a problem, you will know it is no more than 24 hours old.

Experts say that diabetics need the right care to keep their limbs.  I couldn't agree more with that statement.  There will always be factors that put diabetics at greater risk of developing foot problems, being vigilant in controlling your blood sugar while watching for the smallest sign of a problem, will tip the scale in your favor.
Dr. Andrew Schneider
Dr. Andrew Schneider is a podiatrist and foot surgeon at Tanglewood Foot Specialists in Houston, TX.
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