Diabetes Feet Care: Reducing Pressure Key in Helping Wounds Heal

Amputation from a non-healing ulcer is any diabetic patient’s worst fear. There are many reasons why people with diabetes develop chronic wounds that never seem to heal. Part of the problem is their diminished circulation. Another key problem is the amount of pressure placed on foot wounds in particular. In this article, we’ll give you a few tips for taking the pressure off diabetes feet so small injuries heal in a timely manner.

diabetic foot wound offloading

There are many methods for offloading a diabetic foot wound, but they are not always pretty.
Image Source: LowerExtremityReview.com

Choose the right footwear for diabetes feet.

The type of shoes you wear on a day-to-day basis will affect how much pressure is put on your feet. Diabetics should choose footwear made of breathable, flexible canvas, leather or suede — rather than plastic or other rigid synthetic material. The shoes should adjust to make room for occasional swelling, so laces, Velcro, or buckles are preferable. The shoes should be properly fitted and include a roomy toe-box. Shoe choice is more important for preventative off-loading, however, as the most optimistic studies suggest that changing footwear leads to a healing rate of 50% or less at 12 weeks.

Use an assistive device.

Crutches, walkers, or wheelchairs can reduce pressure and irritation to speed healing, says the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA). However, they also acknowledge that many patients lack the upper body strength, cardiovascular endurance, or motivation to get around with these devices. In some cases, pressure is increased on the unaffected side of the body. When using any assistive devices, pay close attention to any discomfort and speak with your doctor about the best device for your particular needs.

See a doctor for a total contact cast.

Total contact casts are considered to be a mainstay of diabetic foot wound care. Well-molded, minimally-padded plaster casts that encase the entire foot and lower leg boasts healing rates ranging from 72% to 100% over five to seven weeks, according to the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases. With this type of treatment, the patient has no other option than to comply. On the downside, patients do tend to suffer from joint stiffness, muscle atrophy, skin breakdown, and slight lacerations when casts are applied. Yet, a 10-year study of over 1,000 patients cited in Lower Extremity Review demonstrated a healing rate of 91% within 13 weeks, with the average wound closure taking place in just over a month — so it’s hard to argue with results.

diabetic foot

A total contact cast is one method of “off-loading” the diabetic foot.
Image Source: OxfordJournals.org

Additional Considerations

Non-healing wounds are scary because the longer they persist, the more time the area has to become infected by fungus, bacteria, and viruses picked up from our environment and harbored for months in our shoes. The SteriShoe UV shoe sanitizer was developed with diabetics specifically in mind. Using the power of ultraviolet light, the shoe sanitizer kills up to 99.9% of the pathogens in your footwear within one 45-minute cycle. Sanitizing shoes should be a part of your daily routine if you want to keep your feet infection-free. This device is used and recommended by podiatrists and has the prestigious APMA seal of acceptance. Buy one for $129.95 here!

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