The hospital’s Wound Healing & Hyperbaric Medicine Center is raising awareness about the disease and the foot ulcers it can cause
St. Mary Wound Healing & Hyperbaric Medicine Center is celebrating National Diabetes Awareness Month in November by raising awareness about diabetes and the foot ulcers the disease can cause. According to the American Diabetes Association, if left untreated, a diabetic foot ulcer can lead to a dangerous infection and hospitalization.
“Diabetic foot ulcers are caused when someone’s diabetes is poorly managed. The skin tissue will break down, exposing the tissue underneath,” said Dr. Nathaniel Holzman, Medical Director of St. Mary Wound Healing & Hyperbaric Medicine Center. “These foot ulcers are painful, debilitating and can be embarrassing for the patient. However, they are treatable and no one should feel embarrassed. The last thing we want anyone to do is forgo treatment because they feel embarrassed.”
An estimated 30.3 million people in the United States (9.4 percent of the population) have diabetes, including 7.2 million who are unaware they are living with the disease. More troubling is the fact that the U.S. diabetic population is expected to nearly double by 2030. Approximately 25 percent of people living with diabetes will develop these painful foot ulcers.
“We have a high success rate of treating wounds like diabetic ulcers,” said Holzman. “Ninety-four percent of all wounds are healed at our center, with most taking less than a month to fully heal.”
Proper wound care is imperative to healing diabetic foot ulcers. Treatments include a number of leading-edge treatments including Total Contact Casting (TCC), Negative Pressure Wound Therapy and Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy. These specialized wound care therapies can aid in wound closure, new tissue growth, and wound tissue regeneration.
As many as 40 percent of people with a healed diabetic foot ulcer will develop a new ulcer within a year. However, an estimated 14 to 24 percent of people with foot ulcers will experience an amputation. An amputation results in decreased quality of life, increased medical costs and a significantly higher risk of mortality. The five-year mortality rate following a lower extremity amputation is 50 percent.
Early detection and intervention can help to mitigate the possibility of limb loss. St. Mary Wound Healing & Hyperbaric Medicine Center recommends these tips to help prevent diabetic foot ulcers:
Stop smoking immediately
Comprehensive foot examinations each time you visit your healthcare provider (at least four times a year)
Daily self-inspections of the feet, or have a family member perform the inspection
Regular care of the feet including cleaning toenails and taking care of corns and calluses
Choose supportive, proper footwear (shoes and socks)
Take steps to improve circulation such as eating healthier and exercising on a regular basis
Contact the St. Mary Wound Healing & Hyperbaric Medicine Center to learn more about diabetic foot ulcers or if you have a wound that will not heal. To schedule an appointment, please call 215–710-HEAL (215–710–4325) or visit stmaryhealthcare.org/woundcenter