Symptoms Of Diabetic Foot Ulcer: Causes And How To Treat It?

Diabetes is one of the most serious health problems all over the world. The number of patients suffering from this condition are increasing at a rapid pace. Diabetes is a chronic disease which persists throughout life. It is a disease having long term devastating effect on various organs of body.

At least 15 percent of diabetic patients suffer from foot ulcer sometime or the other in their life.

The risk of foot amputation increases 8 to 10 folds after development of foot ulcer. The main cause of foot ulcer is diabetic neuropathy and lack of blood circulation in smaller blood vessels of foot.

In diabetic neuropathy patients lose sensation in foot which makes the patient vulnerable to foot injury. The other reason is peripheral vascular disease where narrowing of blood vessel interrupts proper blood flow which is extremely important for wound healing.

The ulcers usually develop on the bottom of foot and top of toe. Ulcers are deep seated without much pain. It may become infected producing foul smell from the foot. Trimming of tissues of ulcerated area, regular dressing, wearing loose fitting shoes postoperatively, and medications to improve circulation are mainstay treatment.

Causes Of Diabetic Foot Ulcer

As mentioned earlier diabetic foot ulcer occurs due to two reasons; lack of blood circulation in peripheral vascular disease and damage to the peripheral nerves leading to loss or reduced sensation in foot.

With lack of sensation patient does not realize pressure on foot or cuts and bruises. Since the nerve endings located in the skin are damaged, patient does not get the preemptive warning of skin being damaged. This may result abrasion, a deep wound or a blister which later on becomes an ulcer.

In a normal person the wound heals after a period of time due to proper blood circulation. But in diabetics since the blood circulation in capillaries is less, vital ingredients such as oxygen and nutrients which help in wound healing are compromised. This may lead to ulceration and delay in wound healing. Risk factors for foot ulcers are:

  • Wearing too tight shoes.
  • Foot deformity such as claw foot, fracture of foot, arthritis etc.
  • Males are affected more than female.
  • Calluses.

Signs And Symptoms Of Diabetic Foot Ulcer

As there is loss of sensation in foot in patients suffering from diabetic neuropathy, patient may not feel pain sensation. The ulcers that develop are therefore painless. The ulcer appears red with a deep crater.

Ulcers usually develop on the sides of foot or on the bottom of foot on the tip of toes. The skin around the ulcer is thick and black. Sometimes tendons and deeper tissues are visible if the ulcer is too deep.

If the nerves are not damaged the ulcer can be painful. Pus may ooze out if the ulcer is infected. It may also produce foul smell.

How To Treat Diabetic Foot Ulcers?

Diabetic foot ulcer needs medical attention. Untreated foot ulcer can lead to serious complication require foot amputation. Patient needs to consult his doctor if there is a wound on his foot. In case if there is proper blood flow in the foot, the doctor may perform debridement. In this procedure, the skin and damaged tissue in and around the ulcer is trimmed or removed. The doctor will dress the wound and prescribe antibiotics to treat infection if present.

Patient is advised to wear special footwear that will prevent pressure on the healing ulcerated area. Diabetic ulcers take weeks and months to heal. During this period, patient has to frequently visit the doctor for proper dressing of ulcer. After the ulcer has healed patient is advised to wear special shoes that are well cushioned to prevent injury and development of ulcer.