Focus on the feet to prevent amputations


Foot Health
Focus on the Feet to Prevent Amputations
Apr 16, 2009 – 5:38:55 PM

A Message in Foot Care for People with Diabetes

National Foot Health Awareness Month kicked into high gear this April giving the 23.6 million Americans who have diabetes the opportunity to pay close attention to their feet.

( – Alarmingly, every thirty seconds around the world, a toe or foot is amputated as a direct result of the complications from diabetes. Every year, 82,000 amputations in the U.S. are a direct result of diabetes and startlingly, over half of these amputations are preventable!

Proper foot care, including daily foot observation, can prevent blisters, sores and cuts from progressing into infections which become so insidious they can lead to toe or foot amputations. Neuropathy, a common complication of diabetes, can cause loss of sensation in the extremities, which makes it possible for minor cuts and sores to go unnoticed until they are problematic and traumatic.

In a recent study, I discovered that one of the best steps in prevention is the daily foot check – this simple habit in self-care can prevent ulcers and amputations by at least three-fold. By simply checking the bottoms of the feet, people with diabetes can care for or seek treatment for a foot problem before it progresses into an infection, which all too easily can become so insidious it can lead to toe or foot surgery or amputation.

Every person with diabetes should be made aware of their ability to prevent the traumatic complications of foot problems through simple and effective steps in self-care:

* Conduct a daily foot check: there are new devices available that allow for easy observation of the feet without stretching or straining, such as telescoping mirrors and the Insight Foot Care Scale, a bathroom weight scale with illuminated, magnified mirrors for checking the soles of the feet from every angle without stretching or straining. The scale also has a Cue Light display that lights up when the patient steps off the scale, reminding them to check their feet.

* Use well-fitting socks and shoes to avoid blisters and cuts that can become infected;

* Use special creams and moisturizers to prevent dry skin on the feet and toes;

* Add exercise, such as walking, to one’s daily routine to increase circulation to extremities

* At the first sign of a problem, special thermometers designed to identify “hot spots” can signal the onset of wounds following visual inspection

Dr. David G. Armstrong, DPM is Professor of Surgery at The University of Arizona Department of Surgery, Director of the Southern Arizona Limb Salvage Alliance and the youngest ever podiatrist elected into the Podiatric Hall of Fame. To learn more about foot care, click

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