Diabetic Foot Ulcer Leads to Amputation, So Guard Your Feet

A diabetic foot ulcer is a serious problem. If you know how to care for and how to prevent foot ulcers, you can keep your feet and live a happier life with diabetes.

If you have a diabetic foot ulcer you must take it seriously. Diabetics are at a terribly high risk for amputations.

Doctors treat 600,000 foot ulcers a year, and perform 80,000 amputations of toes and legs.

Most of them happen because of diabetes.

The Cause

It has to do with how diabetes changes you. For type 2 diabetics the change begins with insulin resistance.

The result is higher levels of glucose (sugar) circulating in your blood. Like tiny bits of ground glass, this sugar damages your smallest blood vessels. The nerve ends begin to die.

One of the first places damage shows up is in your feet. The little capillaries that feed your skin and nerves harden and weaken. Toes become numb, and feet are next. Doctors call this process paresthesia.

Along with the numbness, there is nerve pain. You feel burning pain that makes you limp and walk on the sides of your feet.

Click here to go to the home page for A Diabetic Life.

Whether it's pain or numbness, your feet are in danger of developing blisters and sores that can lead to diabetic ulcers.

The worst part is that you will not be aware it is happening. Why? Because diabetic peripheral neuropathy takes away the warning signs.

You Can Be Type 2 Diabetic and Not Know It

Type 2 diabetes creeps in without warning. There is only one sure way to know you have become diabetic. It is getting a blood sugar test.

Find out whether you are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Here is a list of known risk factors. Obesity is only one of them. Look at this list and see if you are on it.

Close to half of the people who are developing diabetes do not know it. What should you do about this? Talk to your doctor now about blood testing. Do not wait, because if you are prediabetic you can prevent becoming a type 2 diabetic.

If you find you are an adult onset type 1 diabetic, beginning insulin treatment now could save your feet, kidneys and eyes from complications.

If You Have Become Type 2 Diabetic

The time to start taking care of your feet is now. You want to prevent diabetic foot ulcers. Before anything else, find a good foot doctor. Your podiatrist will be on the front line to fight foot problems.

Learn how to pick diabetic shoes that will protect your toes and prevent hot spots, the precursor of a diabetic ulcer.

Find some diabetic socks that have no seams to rub against your toes. They also have extra cushioning on the toes and heels.

Start inspecting your feet every day. About 80% of amputations are prevented by daily inspection.

If you cannot see all sides of your feet, ask for help. If there is no one who can do this, there is a mirror on a long swivel handle.

Its main purpose is to help you see the bottoms of your feet. You can find it in specialty catalogs for home medical care and on Amazon.

If You Find Something On Your Foot

Examine your feet under a nice bright light. Look for red spots and blisters. If you find a blister, do not break or pop it.

Clean it gently with warm water and soap. If it does break, leave the loose skin over it to protect it while it heals.

Cover it but not with a Band-aid. Use a nonstick cover like gauze, and hold it in place with medical tape or a wrap.

Show it to your doctor as soon as possible. Hot spots, streaks, sores between the toes and rubbed areas need to be brought to his attention.

I know how hard it is to take care of your feet when they are extra sensitive, but you've got to do it. Here are some tips for dealing with foot pain.

Never Self Diagnose Your Feet

Never try to diagnose and treat your own feet. I earned a scolding from my podiatrist for using a wart medication on what I thought was a plantar wart.

It was actually a splinter. It is just too dangerous to diagnose your feet yourself.

Do not trim an ingrown toenail on your own. It takes too long for diabetic feet to heal, and it is not worth the risk.

There are treatments for a diabetic foot ulcer, but they are expensive and do not always work. Amputation is the last option after doctors have tried everything else.

So let a podiatrist do the trimming of your toenails. It is the best way to avoid giving yourself a diabetic foot ulcer by accident.

How to Prevent Foot Problems

You can prevent diabetic foot ulcers.

  • Keep your blood sugar as close to normal as possible.
  • Exercise to keep the blood flowing to your legs and feet.
  • Inspect your feet every day.


Exercise protects your feet.

Diabetics live much longer now than they did 100 years ago. The longer you have diabetes the more important daily inspection becomes.

Best of all, you could aim for the diabetes cure others have found using weight loss and exercise. Be persistent. Do not give up. 

The best time to decide to keep trying? Right after you have failed. This is something you have to decide every day because every day is a new battle.

The people you love and the dreams you dream are worth fighting for.

[Go back to the top]

Do you know how to treat diabetic fungal infection and what the dangers are?

Learn what to look for in diabetic socks and where to find them.

Return to diabetic feet from the diabetic foot ulcer page.