Diabetes is a serious disease that affects how your body reacts to sugar, or glucose. While our team of board-certified vascular specialists at CTVS does not treat diabetes, we do treat the many complications that come from living with this chronic condition, including peripheral artery disease, diabetic foot ulcers and diabetic leg ulcers.
CTVS has an extensive limb preservation and Amputation Prevention program to treat the most severe ulcers in order to avoid losing part of an affected extremity (foot or leg).
What are diabetic foot and diabetic leg ulcers?
A diabetic foot or leg ulcer is an open sore or wound that can develop from poor circulation, diabetic neuropathy (nerve damage), or a diabetic foot infection. These ulcers can also form as a result of peripheral artery disease, a common side effect of diabetes, that causes arteries in the lower extremities to narrow and prevent healthy blood flow.
Ulcers like these are often slow to heal, and may become non-healing wounds that are chronically infected if not treated properly.
Arterial, or ischemic, ulcers typically form on the heels or toes, while neurotrophic ulcers develop on the bottom or soles of the feet. Venous stasis ulcers are sores that appear on the legs.
It is estimated that approximately one out of three people living with diabetes will experience foot ulcers, and of those, half of the ulcers will become so severe that they may lead to amputation.
At CTVS, our goal is to effectively manage diabetic foot and leg ulcers long before they pose any serious risk.
What are common symptoms of diabetic foot and leg infection?
Signs that indicate you may have a diabetic foot or leg ulcer include:
- A large blister or sore that won’t heal
- Bleeding or oozing at the site of the sore
- Unexplained blood or drainage in socks or shoes
- Cracked calluses that bleed
- Pain or swelling in the leg or foot
- Rash, itchiness or redness on the leg or foot
- Discoloration of skin anywhere on the leg or foot
Once you notice a sore developing, seek help right away to prevent it from worsening or becoming infected. If it becomes serious, your regular physician or podiatrist may then refer you to our board-certified vascular surgeons for amputation prevention measures.
Who is at risk for diabetic foot and leg ulcers?
Those who are most at risk for developing diabetic foot and leg ulcers are people who have:
- Poor circulation
- Hypertension, or high blood pressure
- Already existing foot problems, such as bunions or hammer toes
- Uncontrolled blood sugar levels
- Regular smokers or users of tobacco
What is the best diabetic foot and leg ulcer treatment?
Our vascular specialists work hand in hand with podiatrist and wound care specialists to develop the best plan of action for your diabetic foot ulcer treatment.
Diabetic foot and diabetic leg ulcer treatment can include the following:
- Clean and surgically remove all thickened and dead skin around the wound
- Prescribe antibiotics, if necessary, to prevent or treat infection
- Recommend pressure-relieving practices such as wearing special supportive braces, or using crutches or a wheelchair, even to eliminate any stress on the wound as it begins healing
- Coordinate regular follow-up visits to ensure that the wound is healing as it should
- Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy
In addition to the actual wound care, it is imperative that your diabetes is under control and blood glucose levels are being well-managed. This will aid in the treatment process and help to encourage healing.
Make sure that you are meeting regularly with the endocrinologist who is managing your diabetes and that you are taking all medications as directed.
How can you prevent diabetic foot and leg infection?
The best method to protect yourself from developing ulcers is to prevent them in the first place. Ways in which you can prevent diabetic ulcers include:
- Keep your feet clean and toenails neatly trimmed (while being careful not to trim too short or cause bleeding)
- Wear properly fitting, breathable shoes
- Never walk around barefoot
- Avoid picking at calluses, warts, bunions, or dead skin
- Check your feet regularly to notice anything unusual, especially in hard to see spots on the soles or in between toes (enlist assistance from a loved one to help if you have trouble navigating these hard to reach places)
Our CTVS board-certified vascular surgeons specializing in diabetic foot and leg ulcer treatment are:
- John Politz, MD, FACS
- Stephen Settle, MD, FACS
- Joe Wells III, MD, FACS
- Scott Seidel, MD, FACS, RVT
- Jeffery Apple, MD, FACS
- Bradley Boone, MD, FACS
- David Nation, MD, FACS
- Ryan Turley, MD
- Taylor Smith, MD, FACS, RPVI
- Nicolas Zea, MD, FACS, RPVI
For more information on our Limb Preservation and Amputation Prevention Program, contact Program Director Jamie Beffort, RN at (512) 323-5873.