There are many ways diabetics can reduce their risk of amputation.

Amputations occur for a number of different reasons, including trauma and as a result of long-term conditions like diabetes. The Amputee Coalition of America estimated, there are roughly 185,000 new lower limb amputations each year. Not only that, but many researchers believe the numbers will increase significantly by 2050, with an eventual amputee population of 3.6 million Americans. Fortunately, there are steps patients can take to prevent these limb removals, and often they involve effective wound care management.

Recognize infections

Some infections eventually result in amputation to save a patient’s life. As Live Science reported, one such infection is the superbug MRSA, which causes a condition called necrotizing fasciitis that leads to skin being eaten away. As a result, it’s important to recognize the signs of infection, including fever, fluid drainage, feelings of malaise, swelling and redness, and increased temperature within the wound bed. If you show of any these signs, seek out medical help right away.

Care for your ulcers

Diabetic ulcers are quite common, and something like five percent of all diabetics develop an ulcer in their lifetime. Of those cases, one percent will eventually require some form of amputation. The easiest way to prevent worsening ulcers is to pay attention for early warning signs, according to the National Resource Center on Native American Aging. These include foot numbness and diminished blood flow. For the latter, it’s important to get the blood flowing once again, and regular exercise is essential. Finally, always take measures to safeguard your feet, which means the proper footwear and regular washings.

Keep a risk score

In spring 2015, scientists from Maastricht University in the Netherlands unveiled an important new tool in the war against amputations: the Eurodiale Risk Score. Patients’ diabetic foot ulcers are assigned a score from zero to 4.5, which is based on factors like immobility, wound type, age and more. The study from the Maastricht team found the scale worked, with half of all patients who scored between 3 and 4.5 undergoing an amputation procedure. With the score, the researchers hoped they’d have another vital monitoring tool, helping to predict severe ulcers and to intervene before amputation was required.

Avoid charcot foot

Though not common, charcot foot can occur among patients with a more extensive form of diabetes. Charcot happens after nerves in the foot have been damaged, which then leads to the destruction of weight-bearing joints. In turn, this can make walking all but impossible. Not only that, but amputation may be the only choice of action if the damage is far too severe. That’s why it’s so very important to pay close attention to the signs of charcot foot, namely redness and prolonged swelling. Even if you’re a diabetic patient who suffers slight discomfort, it’s a good idea to err on the side of seeing your physician.


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