Despite careful and meticulous attention to foot care and proper management of foot injuries, the formation of foot ulcers dominates the world of lower extremity amputations. Individuals with diabetes are exceptionally at risk for developing these foot sores. The lesions typically coincide with neuropathy, or loss of feeling in the foot. It makes the foot sore practically painless but hard to detect. Drs. Schey, Hoffman, and Kissel advise you to provide your feet with inspection and care. Whether or not you have a lesion on your foot, caring for your feet is important.
What Is A Foot Ulcer?
An ulcer is essentially an open sore on the foot. Some may appear shallow and affect only the surface of the skin, while others prove to be deeply cavernous. Deep foot sores can extend all the way to the tendons and bones. If infection reaches the lesion before treatment, it can develop into:
- A spreading infection that involves the surrounding skin and underlying fat tissues
- An abscess with oozing pus
- A bone infection
What Are The Causes?
Individuals with one or more of the following health problems are susceptible to this condition:
Circulatory problems. Decreased circulation to the feet means less blood and less oxygen. The body's natural ability to heal depends on these substances. As circulation decreases, the risk of injury increases. Peripheral arterial disease is a circulatory problem that many diabetics face.
Peripheral neuropathy. Common among diabetics, this term refers to nerve damage in the feet and lower legs. Individuals with peripheral neuropathy are unable to detect when they've harmed their feet. Without the warning signs of pain, injuries are left untreated and develop into harmful ulcerations.
Bone and muscle abnormalities. Any condition that shifts the anatomy of the foot can lead to friction and pressure. These factors contribute to the formation of foot sores.
What Are The Symptoms?
Foot sores are red in color and round like a crater. They primarily develop on the underside of the foot or near the tip of the toes. As the ulcer forms, thick, callused skin develops around its border. If nerve damage is present, the sore will be painless. However, if the foot is functioning normally, the pain can be excruciating. The affected area may become swollen and if the infection is severe, drainage will be present.
How Are Ulcers Treated?
Upon inspection, the podiatrists at NorthPointe Foot & Ankle will evaluate how deep the sore is, whether there is an infection, and whether you have any foot abnormalities that will interfere with the healing process.
Debridement is the first treatment option. With debridement, the dead skin and tissue will be removed. After all foreign material is removed from the crater, it is rinsed and cleaned. The sore may appear larger after debridement; this is natural. Following this procedure, a dressing is applied and specialized footwear should be worn. To prevent infection, antibiotics are prescribed. Some foot sores don't respond well to debridement and require surgery.
The healing period takes a few months. It is important to schedule regular visits with the office as your ulcer continues to heal. To help prevent this problem in the future, well-cushioned footwear should be worn and daily inspection of the feet must take place.
If you've inspected your foot and come across an open sore, contact our office today! Our office in Berkley provides excellent foot care. Make an appointment by calling 248-545-0100 or by requesting online. Foot ulcers are a very serious problem. If you live in the Berkley, Southfield, Royal Oak, Oak Park or Ferndale areas tet us help!