Ulcers - Diabetic Foot Ulceration
Patients with diabetes do not have
normal feeling in their feet. The nerves stop conducting electrical
impulses correctly as a result of the abnormal sugar metabolism.
Sensations in the foot begin to change and decrease over time. This
condition is called neuropathy.
Due to the neuropathy, light touch, deep pressure and most skin
sensations cannot be adequately perceived. Any friction, rubbing,
or pressure from a shoe will lead to an increased concentration
of pressure on the foot. This causes skin breakdown and an ulcer
develops. The pressure and friction are normal but the inability
to feel these sensations is abnormal. The patient cannot make the
fine-tuning and adjustments necessary to prevent an ulcer from forming.
An ulcer is not caused by lack of circulation or by infection. The
ulcers are usually associated with bone pressure and a bone prominence
under the arch of the foot. These ulcers can become very large and
must be treated.
left untreated, the ulcer will lead to eventual bone infection and
possibly amputation of the foot or leg. The most effective way to
treat an ulcer is to change the pressure on the bottom of the foot.
The majority of ulcers can therefore be treated with a walking boot,
walking cast or a total contact cast. The total contact cast treatment
for diabetic ulceration was popularized by Dr Myerson in the 1980's
and this treatment principle is now used worldwide. The cast distributes
the pressure on the bottom of the foot allowing even pressure for
walking and eventual healing of the ulcer. Complete healing takes
anywhere from two to six months. If healing does not occur or if
infection develops, surgery will become necessary.