Amputation can occur from severe diabetic foot ulcers.

Over the past few decades, diabetes has continued to become a global health threat that shows no signs of slowing down. According to the National Health Service of the U.K., the number of cases of diabetes has steadily increased from 1.4 million cases in 1996 to 2.9 million in 2012. While the spreading of this disease has seen heavy rises in just about every country around the world, what is truly alarming about diabetes in the U.K. – in line with rates in the U.S. – has been the steady incline in diabetic amputations over the past several years.

The NHS recently conducted a survey involving the overall efficiency of cities and hospitals in the country regarding diabetic wound care. The data recovered from the survey results indicated there are currently seven-times-more lower limb amputations among diabetes patients in the lower performing areas than compared to the best diabetic health practitioners. As an example, the UK cities of Fareham and Gosport were marked as poor areas to receive medical attention for diabetes, with reported rates of 5.1 amputations per 1,000 adults, while other cities such as Brent had rates of only 0.7 amputations per 1,000 patients.

The national average rate of amputations resulting from diabetic complications was discovered to be at 2.6 per 1,000 cases, indicating the fact that there is such discrepancy in diabetic health quality should result in further government involvement in stabilizing a balance of health care. According to Diabetes U.K., 4 out of 5 lower-limb amputations stemming from diabetes in the U.K. can be prevented through receiving better diabetic wound care.

While the number in cases of diabetes slowly approaches exceeding 26 million in the U.S., the number of lower-limb amputations in the U.S. has surprisingly declined over the past two decades. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the rate of foot and leg amputations for diabetic adults aged 40 or older has declined by 65 percent from 1996 to 2008, dropping from 11.2 amputations per 1,000 diabetics to 3.9 per 1,000 cases. While amputation statistics may be decreasing, the total number of people developing the disease continues to skyrocket. The American Diabetes Association estimates that by the year 2050, 1 in 3 people living in the U.S. will have diabetes.

Avoiding amputation

Most cases of amputation occur when diabetic foot ulcers develop, which according to the American Podiatric Medical Association happens to approximately 15 percent of patients who have the disease. Ulcers can form through a number of health factors, primarily from nerve damage, frequent pressure upon the foot and overall poor blood circulation.

The longer you have diabetes, the more at risk you become for developing neuropathy. Neuropathy is when elevated blood glucose levels eventually result in nerve damage, which lead to a person rarely or never experiencing sensations of pain. This could mean that someone living with a diabetic foot ulcer on the bottom of their feet may not notice an indication of it until amputation is the only recommended course of action. Simple procedures such as taking time out of your day to carefully inspect your feet, wash them daily and wearing clean and dry socks can only aid prevention. If you have noticed pain or an ulcer forming in your foot, see a clinician right away.

Advanced Tissue is the nation’s leader in delivering specialized wound care supplies to patients, delivering to both homes and long-term care facilities.