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What is Diabetic Wound Management?

Diabetic wound management is the process of treating wounds complicated by diabetes. Diabetes is a chronic condition characterized by high blood glucose (sugar) levels. Diabetic patients are at a higher risk for developing chronic wounds on the limbs, especially in the feet. The most common type of diabetic wound is an ulcer or open sore in the sole of the foot. If left untreated, these wounds can cause serious problems resulting in infection and gangrene, which may require amputation.

Risk factors for Diabetic Wounds

Diabetic wounds or ulcers are chronic lesions that can develop or worsen due to:

  • Hyperglycemia (increased blood sugar)
  • Neuropathy (loss of sensation)
  • Peripheral vascular disease and poor circulation
  • Infection
  • Foot deformities
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Drug abuse

Reduced sensation in the feet can increase your risk of injury. A diabetic ulcer can even develop from a crack in the skin of the foot.

How are Diabetic Wounds Managed?

The primary goal of diabetic wound management is to promote faster healing. Proper evaluation and treatment involve:

  • Diagnosis: A thorough physical examination and tests will be performed to analyze the severity and location of the wound and to detect sensation and blood supply in the area. The foot is examined for deformities or bony prominences. Blood sugar levels are evaluated.
  • Treatment:
    • Surgical debridement: This process involves the removal of dead and infected tissue from the wound which reduces the risk of infection and enhances healing.
    • Medication: Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to treat or prevent infection promoting faster healing.
    • Keep the wound clean and covered: The wound should be cleaned daily and covered with a bandage to reduce the risk of infection and promote healing.
    • Taking pressure off the wound: Depending on the severity of the lesion your doctor may recommend special shoes, braces, crutches, or a wheelchair to reduce pressure on the wound.
    • Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy: This therapy involves inhaling concentrated oxygen while in a pressurised chamber for a period of time to promote the healing of tissues.
    • Correction of foot deformities: This involves surgical procedures to reduce pressure on the wound by correction of foot deformities and shaving bony prominences.
  • Prevention:

Preventive measures can help wounds from worsening or prevent the development of new wounds. These measures include:

  • Controlling blood glucose levels
  • Wearing well-fitted or diabetic shoes
  • Avoiding alcohol consumption
  • Proper wound care
  • Regular checking of lesions and ulcers
  • Proper foot care
  • Moisturizing the feet to prevent cracks
  • Managing bodyweight
  • The Arthroscopy Association of North America
  • The American Osteopathic Academy of Orthopedics (AOAO)
  • The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
  • American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society┬«
    Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Foundation
  • American Academy of Osteopathy
  • American Osteopathic Association