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Saving Diabetic Feet

March 5, 2015

With proper diligence, diabetics could avoid suffering the pain of ulcers and amputations. This alone could save millions of dollars in medical costs annually.

According to the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse, nearly 8% of the U.S. population has diabetes. A 2004 to 2006 national survey for people ages 20 years or older diagnosed indicates that 6.6 percent of non-Hispanic whites, 7.5 percent of Asian Americans, 10.4 percent of Hispanics, and 11.8 percent of non-Hispanic blacks had diagnosed diabetes. Among Hispanics, rates were 8.2 percent for Cubans, 11.9 percent for Mexican Americans, and 12.6 percent for Puerto Ricans.

Two million diabetics develop foot ulcers every year. As a consequence, diabetes related

amputations have skyrocketed. These ulcers are often caused by wearing improper or poor fitting shoes that irritate the feet. Since most diabetics suffer from peripheral neuropathy or foot numbness, caused by poor circulation, a blister or a sore toe

can go unnoticed until the damage is too great to be ignored. By the time they see a doctor, it may be too late to reverse the damage.

If not treated properly, the ulcers will turn gangrenous, eventually requiring the amputation of the toes or entire foot. But doctors say with vigilance, prevention and better treatment, it doesn’t have to be that way. These amputations are often preventable with proper foot care including the wearing of extra depth therapeutic shoes with custom fitted inserts,

available through Medicare, at little or no cost to the patient. Proper foot care includes daily washing of the feet, checking for sores or abrasions, trimming of the toenails, regular examinations by a physician or podiatrist and of course, wearing the correct, properly fit shoes.

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