People with diabetes are more likely to have a foot or leg amputated than other people because they can develop a variety of foot problems, sometimes even simple ones that can lead to serious complications. The reason? Many people with diabetes have blood vessel disease, which reduces blood flow to the feet. They may also have nerve disease, called neuropathy, which reduces sensation and makes it harder to tell when something is wrong with their feet. People with diabetes can injure their feet, and not know it or get treatment, causing the problem to worsen. Together, these problems make it easy to get ulcers and infections that can lead to amputation.
The good news is that most amputations are preventable and most people can avoid serious foot troubles by following a few simple steps. By making foot care part of your health routine, you can Stop Diabetes® from knocking you off your feet.
This means taking simple steps every day, like not going barefoot, checking your feet every time you take your shoes off and, if you have a problem, seeing your health care provider right away. Your health care provider can teach you proper foot care and should conduct a thorough check of your feet at least once a year.
April is also National Minority Health Month, and part of the American Diabetes Association’s important collaboration with the Office of Minority Health is working to reduce the number of amputations due to diabetes in minority populations, which experience higher rates of lower-extremity amputations. The focus of the collaboration is on increasing awareness about proper foot care and helping patients with diabetes access the care they need to stay healthy.
When living with diabetes, it is vital to make foot care part of your health routine. The Association has many resources available to help. If you are a health care professional and are interested in learning more about the tools available, please visit our Health Professionals Resource webpage.