Blood vessel and nerve damage linked with
diabetes can lead to serious infections that are
extremely hard to treat. Often the first place you have a problem is your
feet. When you lose the ability to feel your toes and feet, you are more likely
to injure them without knowing it. Even a minor injury, such as a small cut,
can develop into an ulcer and a serious infection.
Infections of the feet can spread up into the leg. Sometimes the
infection is so severe that toes, the foot, and/or possibly part of the leg must be
Amputations are done when efforts to save the foot or leg are
unsuccessful or the infection is causing extensive tissue damage. In all cases,
doctors save as much of a person's foot or leg as possible. But they try
to make sure that the remaining part of the limb will heal so that further
surgery is not needed.
A serious infection can be life-threatening. In these cases, an
amputation may save your life.
If you are faced with needing an amputation, talk with your doctor
about how it can benefit you. Often amputation relieves the severe pain
linked with an infection, as well as getting rid of the infection and the
need to take strong antibiotics. Also, modern prosthetic devices are
lightweight, making walking as easy as possible after an amputation.
Having a foot or leg amputated is traumatic and means a major
body-image change. Allow yourself time to grieve and deal with what losing a
part of your body means to you. If you need help, talk with your doctor about emotional counseling. You may also find it helpful to talk
with a person who has had an amputation.
The American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons provides
information on surgery and shoe selection as well as the care and treatment of
heel, toe, ankle, nerve, tendon, nail, and skin conditions. You can also look up and learn about sports injuries, diabetic foot problems, arthritis, and resources in your local area.
September 26, 2012
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
& Jennifer Hone, MD - Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
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