Examining the Medical, Drug, and Work Loss Costs of Diabetic Foot Ulcers

Healthcare cost in America has been a hot topic in the news for the past several years, as our nation’s leaders look at ways to curb expenses and make top-level care more affordable for the masses. At the very least, the economic burden of diabetes-related complications should remain a motivator for individuals with the disease to strive toward careful health management.

Did you know that the average cost to heal a diabetic foot ulcer is $8,000? For a wound that has become infected, this number skyrockets up to $17,000, according to a report published in Clinical Diabetes, the official journal of the American Diabetes Association. Beyond the medical bills, the cost of diabetic foot ulcers to society is astronomical.

diabetic foot ulcers

Diabetic Foot Ulcers result from a complex interaction of multiple risk factors.

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Examining Diabetes Feet: Populations with Increased Risk and Helpful Prevention Measures

Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. Each year, it is listed as an underlying cause or contributing factor on more than 230,000 death certificates. Complications like kidney failure, blindness, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, neuropathy, and amputation are of grave concern.

diabetes complications

Diabetes complications make the disease the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S.

At Shoe Care Innovations, we are particularly concerned about diabetes feet and amputations. Did you know that the 5-year mortality rate of diabetics with lower limb amputations is nearly 50%? We hope to change that by introducing Americans to a new way of helping to prevent diabetic foot infections.

For a myriad of reasons, some populations in America are at greater risk for the development of diabetes than others. We’ll take a look at the statistics and discuss why these groups should consider investing in ultraviolet light shoe sanitization devices as part of their daily health care regimen.

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Awareness and Prevention: How Do Diabetic Foot Ulcers Lead to Amputations?

The Amputation Prevention Centers of America says that nearly 1 in 5 diabetic foot infections require some sort of amputation. “If ulcers can be prevented, up to 85% of amputations may also be prevented,” says Dr. Francesco Squadrito, MD, of the University of Messina, Italy. It’s clear that diabetic foot ulcers many times result in amputations, but why? Shouldn’t we have more options for diabetic foot ulcer treatment in 2014?

diagram showing typical locations of foot ulcers

Foot ulcers usually appear on the bottom of the feet, but may also affect the toes.

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When Foot Health is Not an Option: Ulcer Recurrence Is a Huge Problem for Diabetics

Of the 26 million Americans with diabetes, 65,700 patients receive lower limb amputations each year. Diabetes itself does not cause the need for amputation, so how does a person wind up in such a troubling position? The fact is, minor sores can turn into big problems for individuals with diabetes, especially when one’s footwear is covered in bacteria. A goal of Shoe Care Innovations is to provide diabetics with tools they can use at home to maintain a more sanitary environment and decrease exposure to harmful pathogens that could cause life-threatening foot infections.

foot amputations

Diabetes is responsible for more than 60% of all non-traumatic lower limb amputations.
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Promising Treatment Method: Will Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Help to Heal Diabetic Foot Wounds?

A person recently wrote in to The Town Talk concerned about their 84-year-old diabetic father who has had a foot wound for five months. A podiatrist debrided the diabetic foot wound, prescribed antibiotics, and changed the bandages regularly, but the writer was wondering if hyperbaric treatment could help in this case. Many users of the SteriShoe UV shoe sanitizer are diabetics who are also worried about foot health and hygiene, so the portent for hyperbaric oxygen treatment is something we’re very much interested in.

chronic diabetic foot wound

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is an advanced treatment for chronic diabetic foot wounds.
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Take Strides to Protect Your Feet: 3 Reasons Diabetics Should Invest in Shoe Orthoses

People with diabetes can achieve the best possible health by managing the various risks they face. Poor circulation is one complication caused by elevated blood sugars. This condition makes it more difficult for wounds to heal — particularly wounds in the lower extremities.

Another complication — nerve damage — makes it possible for slow-healing wounds to go undetected for long periods of time. During this time, bacteria, viruses, and fungi can easily infect the wound. We wash our clothes daily, but fail to follow any regular protocol for our footwear — and yet, this dark, damp, warm environment is where pathogens like to procreate most.

To avoid dangerous diabetic foot infections resulting in hospitalization, surgery, and/or amputation, we recommend preventing foot wounds with orthoses and preventing microbial buildup with a SteriShoe UV shoe sanitizer.

diabetic orthoses

There are several different types of orthoses to choose from.
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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.
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Sifting Through the Types of Diabetic Foot Wound Dressings

Podiatrists, surgeons and foot care experts have a hard time agreeing upon which type of diabetic foot wound dressing works best to alleviate symptoms, protect the wound, and prompt healing. It seems there are pros and cons to every type of dressing. No matter which type is selected, it will need to be regularly changed and inspected.

diabetic wound dressing

No matter what type of dressing is used to treat a diabetic foot wound, it should be checked and changed regularly.
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Health care professionals will generally consider several different factors when deciding which type of dressing to apply:

– Amount of fluid and odor coming from the infection

– Comfort and ability to alleviate pain

– Ability to aid in healing

– Bulkiness and room it takes up in the shoe

– Ability to withstand shearing forces of the shoe

Despite knowing the ideal qualities of a good diabetic foot wound dressing, there is little research-based evidence to support one type of bandage over another. At any rate, we’ll let you know what’s out there for your consideration.

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Watch Your Feet: Photos Reveal How a Diabetic Foot Infection Can Grow in Just 10 Days!

We’re not going to post the photo of a ten-day-old diabetic foot infection directly, out of respect for some of our more squeamish readers. After all, it is shockingly gruesome! It is almost beyond comprehension just how rapidly diabetic foot damage can spread once the blistering begins.

If you are curious and would like a punch in the gut to fully comprehend the gravity of diabetic foot ulcers, then by all means, click here to see the photo. If you’d rather not see it, we understand. We will at least tell you about what happened to the poor 50-year-old man who suffered the lesions on his feet.

diabetic foot ulcer

Diabetic foot wounds can progress rapidly, so prevention is the best cure.
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Amniotic Fluid Aids In Diabetic Foot Wound Treatment

KSAT News tells the story of a man named Rocco LoBosco who was told he’d lose part or the whole foot and possibly even his leg after diabetic ulcers covered his little toe. However, Dr. Richard Jacoby of the Scottsdale Neuropathy Institute in Scottsdale, Arizona was able to save the man’s feet and restore feeling to the tissue using amniotic fluid from pregnant donors.

How Does Amniotic Fluid Help Cure Diabetic Foot Ulcers?

“Amniotic fluid seems to meet the criteria to develop new tissue,” said Dr. Jacoby. During the procedure, the amniotic fluid is injected into the nerve during decompression surgery. The stem cells stimulate the injured area with essential nutritional materials and mesenchymal stem cells to prompt aggressive healing. In the same way a laser treatment may stimulate bone healing, the amniotic fluid appears to send a strong message to the body to heal. Of the 16 nerves Dr. Jacoby has experimented on, he has managed to restore sensation in all of them. However, he is careful to clarify that amniotic fluid does not cure diabetic neuropathy altogether, but it can use remaining nerve function to clear up the ulceration.

stem cell therapy

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According to Dr. Bruce Werber of InMotion Foot & Ankle Specialists, amniotic membrane and fluid has been cryopreserved to be used on anyone at anytime. “We don’t have to have a live birth to collect it, and it can be harvested in very clean, sterile conditions. We inject it in and around the wound, and it enhances the healing,” he said. Recovery started to occur within days of treatment in all 20 of his patients, he notes, and 90 percent of the wounds have closed within the last year.

What Is Decompression Surgery?

Over the past 18 months, amniotic fluid has been used in conjunction with decompression surgery. This type of surgery is nothing new,with the first surgery performed in 1984. During the procedure, the medial, carpal tunnel and ulnar nerves were relieved of pressure by cutting tight tunnels around the nerves to allow for swelling and decrease pressure from surrounding structures. This procedure is considered minimally invasive, as the surgeon uses specialized surgical instruments and makes a very small incision. Dr. Jacoby says he’s done over 3,000 decompression procedures over the past 13 years and has not had even one amputation out of the group.

foot nerves

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Complementary Diabetic Foot Wound Treatments Include Sterilization.

Individuals who have had their feet treated in such a manner certainly do not want to risk the possibility of re-infection in the future. Therefore, it is imperative that these patients check their feet for cuts, blisters and other injuries on a daily basis. It’s also a wise idea to use a UV shoe sanitizer to kill harmful bacteria and fungus that may collect in the shoes and cause a problem later down the road.