Foot and ankle issues have quite the range when it comes to degree of severity. Some issues are easily treated, whereas others can ultimately become life-threatening. On the “highly-severe” side of the scale is the matter of diabetic foot ulcers. As you understand what happens with untreated foot wounds, it’s very easy to see why you are best off doing everything you can to avoid them.
If you don’t have diabetes, it is important to treat foot wounds, and not let them fester. Unless you have numbness caused by nondiabetic neuropathy (nerve damage), you will likely be able to tell when the wound has developed – that is, after all, one of the important responsibilities of your peripheral nerves.
In the event you cut or scrape a foot, it’s a good idea to clean the wound carefully, and then apply antibiotic ointment to prevent infection. As long as your body’s immune system isn’t compromised, your white blood cells will do everything they can to fight off any microorganisms (bacterial, fungal, or viral) that try to invade your body.
Major problems can develop, though, if you are diabetic and ignore a foot wound. Ignoring the wound doesn’t even have to be intentional; even if you aren’t aware of the problem, letting it go unaddressed can lead to a critical situation. Specifically, the continued breakdown of a wound can potentially result in a gangrenous condition.
When it comes to treating gangrene, the first thing you need to keep in mind is the fact there isn’t treatment for tissue that is already dead. For this reason, you should take every step possible to prevent it from happening to you in the first place. When preventative measures haven’t been taken and the problem already exists, it is absolutely crucial that steps are taken immediately to prevent the condition from progressing.
Treatment typically relies on a combination of surgery, antibiotics, and sometimes hyperbaric oxygen therapy to remove dead tissue and fight off any infection. In addition to removing dead tissue—this can include amputation in severe cases—surgical procedures may be used to repair diseased or damaged blood vessels. The intent of this is to promote blood flow to the affected area and save as much of the healthy tissue as possible, while also allowing for the possibility of a skin graft over the affected area.
Here at Foot & Ankle Clinic of the Virginias, we would rather you not have an untreated wound that leads to gangrene, and will gladly help you take steps to prevent this from happening in the first place.
Properly managing your diabetes can be instrumental in reducing your risk, as can giving up smoking and the use of all tobacco products. Losing weight and taking care of open wounds are other measures that will certainly help. Come see us at one of our seven offices and you will have an experienced, compassionate podiatrist assist you in creating a diabetic foot care plan to keep you safe. Call us toll-free today at (800) 456-8637 to request your appointment!