Everyone gets an occasional scrape or sore. In most cases, an individual can treat and bandage the wound and give it barely another thought as the body’s natural healing processes take over. However, for diabetic patients, even the most minor of wounds can become a major problem and require vigilant care and monitoring. More so than the average patient, those suffering from diabetes are prone to experience poor wound healing and the associated complications such as infection. This means that all those who suffer from diabetes should not only understand the risks that come with their condition, but exactly which options are available should they encounter a problem.
Why do Diabetics Develop Foot Ulcers?
There are a number of health concerns that are more prominent among diabetic patients than others. Nerve damage, heart disease, retinopathy, and kidney damage are all potential complications, and some of these may even contribute to the development of slow-healing foot ulcers. Nerve damage, or neuropathy, for instance is a major factor influencing such skin sores.
Over time, diabetes and the fluctuating glucose levels that accompany it can lead to vascular disease, or damage to the blood vessels. This results in issues such as poor circulation which can occur anywhere in the body but that is particularly common in the lower extremities. Additionally, neuropathy in the same region reduces sensation, meaning that diabetic patients may not always realize when an ill-fitting shoe or other source is causing a sore. Likewise, lack of pain will make worsening ulcers more difficult to identify until further into their progression.
How can Diabetic Foot Ulcers be Treated?
In all, it is estimated that 15 percent of diabetic patients will suffer from a foot ulcer, and without proper and timely treatment, the complications can be major and may even include the need for amputation. In instances of severe, slow- or non-healing foot ulcers, hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is often recommended.
In this treatment, patients rest comfortably inside a pressurized chamber with 100% pure oxygen. All tissue requires oxygen for survival, but the needs of damaged tissue are even greater during the healing process. Typically, the air around us contains only about 21 percent, and the drastic, controlled increase in the chamber allows a significantly higher amount of healing oxygen to be delivered to the areas that need it most. Additionally, the therapy increases the body’s ability to fight off infection and may ultimately save patients from further pain and more serious complications.
If you are diabetic, you are already accustomed to monitoring many aspects of your health. However, if the condition of your skin and lower extremities is not one such aspect, it is vitally important that you begin paying close attention. Look for signs of change in your skin, thoroughly clean and care for any sores or wounds, and contact your physician immediately should an injury appear to worsen or not improve within a reasonable amount of time.
If you are in Baton Rouge or the surrounding areas and are suffering from chronic, slow- or non-healing wounds, Lane Wound Care and Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Center is available to help. Click below to learn more about our facility, the HBOT process, and how you can request an appointment.