Right now, 6.7 million Americans are living with a chronic wound, and more than two million of those are suffering from a diabetic foot ulcer. April is Foot Health Awareness Month and is a great opportunity to highlight the importance of foot health.
Are your feet at risk?
Some of the risk factors for wounds of the feet include: neuropathy, deformity of the foot, history of foot ulceration, absent or diminished pulses and prior amputation, explained Naomi Oliker, director of the Centers for Advanced Wound Care& Hyperbaric Medicine at Adventist HealthCare White Oak Medical Center.
People with diabetes should be especially on top of their foot health. Diabetes may cause nerve damage for some people. If this happens, the nerves no longer feel pain due to numbness, which means you might not feel injury on your feet. Up to 70 percent of diabetic individuals experience this problem, and up to 25 percent of all diabetics will develop a foot ulcer in their lifetime. An estimated 15 percent of diabetics with a foot ulcer will require an amputation.
In 2010, about 73,000 non-traumatic lower-limb amputations were performed on adults aged 20 years or older with diagnosed diabetes. This accounts for 60 percent of non-traumatic lower-limb amputations.
Take a Stand for Foot Health
Our Wound Care Center experts recommend the following foot care techniques to keep your feet healthy, said Oliker.
- Check your feet for red spots, cuts, swelling, blisters, sores or other injuries daily.
- Wash your feet every day and dry them with care, especially between the toes.
- Trim your toenails as needed after you’ve washed and dried your feet.
- Wear properly fitting shoes that do not rub or pinch your feet.
- Always wear socks or stockings with your shoes, and never walk barefoot or in just socks.
- Physical activity can help increase circulation in your Consult your healthcare team to see which physical activity is right for you.
- Take off your socks at your next check-up, and alert your doctor to any problems with your feet.
Remember, prevention and intervention are key!