Diabetic Foot. What is a diabetic foot?
The term 'diabetic foot' covers all of the changes affecting the feet that are attributable to diabetes mellitus. These include dry, cracked skin, changes in the nails, impaired blood flow, deformed toes, muscle atrophy (wasting of the muscle), impaired sensations, breaks in the skin (ulceration) and damage to the joints (Charcot, athropathy).
Information about symptoms & causes of diabetic foot.
Symptoms. Signs & indications of a diabetic foot
How a diabetic foot is recognized.
Problems with the nerves and blood flow can lead to severe damage to the foot. In Germany, changes of this kind are most commonly caused by many years of suffering from diabetes mellitus, as a result of which the condition is generally also known as diabetic foot. The signs of this condition include impaired sensations, as well as a high risk for the occurrence of breaks in the skin which can be accompanied by infections or breakdown of bone. In Germany, this set of signs and symptoms is the most common cause of amputations.
The more you know about the diabetic foot, how it develops and the associated risk factors, the greater your changes of preventing this disease and its serious consequences. The earlier changes can be recognised and the more aggressive the treatment, the better the prospects avoiding amputations in the foot.
Causes. How a diabetic foot develops
Diabetic Vascular Disease.
Diabetes mellitus causes disorders of the large and small blood vessels. When diabetic foot develops disorders of the small blood vessels become extremely significant. While a foot pulse is often palpable and the foot feels warm to the touch, the very small vessels, which supply the cells become blocked. This leads to a reduced flow of blood in the tissue and to a reduced oxygen supply. The result is a limitation in the tissue's ability to regenerate. The smallest wounds now heal only very slowly. The body's resistance to germs is reduced and often fungi in the feel and nails are found.
The raised blood glucose level also damages among other things, the nerves. The longest nerves in the body extending down to the foot, are particularly affected. The first symptoms are restricted sensations which can lead to a complete loss of feeling in the foot. Over the course of time the nerves are affected which control the muscles and this can lead to visible amyotrophia in the region of the sole of the foot. Also all the other organ systems which are controlled by nerves are affected. For instance sweat secretions in the foot are completely absent in the context of diabetic neuropathy. At the same time there is a dysfunction in the control mechanism of bone metabolism.
Diabetic Foot. Caused by of a combination of different factors
Diabetic foot arises from the combination of these above-mentioned factors. Because of a disturbance of sensations, the patient often is unaware of pressure areas in his shoes and wounds go unnoticed as he walks. Because of the disturbance in regenerative capability, the open wound continues and then becomes an entry point for bacteria. Because the body's immune system is weak it is only able to offer slight resistance and so an infection develops in the soft tissue. If left untreated, the infection will spread and can get into the muscles and joints. A special type is diabetic neuropathy. Because of disturbances in bone metabolism, this can lead to weakness in the bone. The bone tissue dies to some extent and the foot can completely collapse. X-rays show completely destroyed bones, but because of the patient's loss of sensation, this causes no pain. The permeative pattern of the destroyed structure of bone in the X-ray in the case of subjective freedom of symptoms is also called Charcot arthropathy.
Diagnostics & Therapy
If a Diabetic foot is diagnosed, the treatment depends on the severity and stage of the disease, as well as existing comorbidities.
Experts for foot disorders: Specialised clinics and hospitals for diagnostics, treatment and therapy of the diabetic foot at a glance.
Medical advice & prevention
A few rules can help to prevent the development of a diabetic foot disease. The patient himself can contribute greatly here.