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Diabetic Foot Ulcer FAQs

Following are the common questions about Diabetic Foot Ulcer:

  1. Can a foot ulcer heal on its own?
  2. Why does diabetic foot ulcer occur?
  3. What are the common causes of diabetic foot ulcers?
  4. Can I apply the cream to cure a diabetic foot ulcer?
  5. Are there any types of diabetic foot ulcers?
  6. What should I eat during diabetic foot ulcer?
  7. What are the diagnostic tests recommended by the doctor for diabetic foot ulcers?
  8. How can I identify that my diabetic foot ulcer is severe?
  9. Can I treat a diabetic foot ulcer at home?
  10. When should I consult a doctor for a foot ulcer?
  11. Can I prevent diabetic foot ulcers?
  12. Can a diabetic foot ulcer be left untreated?
  13. What is the cost of diabetic foot ulcer treatment?
  14. What questions should you ask your doctor if seeking diabetic foot ulcer treatment?
  15. Are there any non-surgical treatments for diabetic foot ulcers?
  16. Which is the most effective treatment for a diabetic foot ulcer?

Q. Can a foot ulcer heal on its own?

A. A foot ulcer won’t heal if you have peripheral artery disease (PAD). It will cause malfunctioning in the circulatory system, which won’t allow the ulcer to heal properly. For a non-healing ulcer, you should know that minimally invasive treatment methods are available for such ulcers.

Q. Why does diabetic foot ulcer occur?

A. Diabetic foot ulcers occur when the body's natural healing mechanism fails due to diabetes. Diabetes hinders the healing process by delaying the extracellular matrix (ECM) formation, which is the largest component of the dermal skin layer.

Q. What are the common causes of diabetic foot ulcers?

A. The cause of diabetic foot ulcer occurrence may vary from one patient to another. There are different causes that can result in a diabetic foot ulcer. some of them are:

  • High blood sugar
  • Hypertension
  • Venous insufficiency
  • Nerve damage
  • Poor blood circulation

Q. Can I apply the cream to cure a diabetic foot ulcer?

A. Applying cream can not cure a diabetic foot ulcer. However, there are certain ointments and creams prescribed by the doctor to promote the healing of the diabetic ulcer. Doctors often advise creams that contain urea as they will act as a layer over the wound and aids in healing. Therefore, the suggested cream can help treat the skin to enhance its quality because, generally, they are unaware of the cuts, blisters, and injuries in their foot, which may result in the formation of diabetic foot ulcers. Some of the ointments or antibiotic creams that the doctors usually prescribe are neomycin, gentamycin, and mupirocin, neosporin, etc.

Q. Are there any types of diabetic foot ulcers?

A. Yes. There are three different types of diabetic foot ulcers mentioned below:

  • Neuropathic ulcers- This type of ulcer usually occur in the case of peripheral diabetic neuropathy
  • Ischemic ulcers- This type of ulcer occurs when peripheral artery disease is present without diabetic peripheral neuropathy.
  • Neuroischemic ulcers- This is a type of ulcer where both peripheral neuropathy and ischemia are present as a result of peripheral artery disease.

Q. What should I eat during diabetic foot ulcer?

A. There are a few changes you can do in your dietary plan that may prevent diabetic foot ulcer from progressing: Some of the food items you can add to your meals if you’re suffering from a diabetic foot ulcer are -

  • Cereals
  • Tofu
  • Beans
  • Berries
  • Brown rice
  • Whole-grain and high-fiber carbohydrates
  • Low-fat dairy products
  • Whole-grain bread
  • Fruits with the skin

Q. What are the diagnostic tests recommended by the doctor for diabetic foot ulcers?

A. The vascular surgeon conducts a physical examination by touching the affected area. To detect the severity of your diabetic foot ulcer in order to initiate a best-suited treatment the doctor may advise the following diagnostic tests -

  • MRI scans to identify the degree of damage caused due to the ulcer and reveal any signs of inflammation in the foot.
  • X-rays to detect the bone mass loss that may have happened due to diabetes.
  • Blood tests detect any signs of infection present with the ulcer.

Q. How can I identify that my diabetic foot ulcer is severe?

A. There are different grades of a diabetic foot ulcer that are classified according to the severity and symptoms. Following are the grades mentioned for your better understanding:

  • Grade 0-Intact skin
  • Grade 1- Superficial ulcer of the skin or subcutaneous tissue
  • Grade 2-Ulcers extension into tendon, bone, and capsule
  • Grade 3-Deep ulcer with osteomyelitis or abscess
  • Grade 4-Partial foot gangrene
  • Grade 5- Whole foot gangrene

Q. Can I treat a diabetic foot ulcer at home?

A. No. A diabetic foot ulcer cannot and should not be treated at home. In most cases, the ulcer becomes infected, which further delays the healing process and increases infection chances. Removing the infection is not possible with home remedies. You should always consult a doctor for proper treatment of foot ulcers.

Q. When should I consult a doctor for a foot ulcer?

A. Consult the doctor if you are experiencing the following symptoms-

  • Discoloration and swelling of the skin
  • Foul-smelling discharge
  • Pain and firmness around the wound
  • Skin thickening
  • Gangrene

Q. Can I prevent diabetic foot ulcers?

A. A diabetic foot ulcer can not be prevented. Therefore, it is always a better option to consult an experienced doctor for a proper treatment for a diabetic foot ulcer. However, there are a few tips that may help you prevent normal foot ulcer from progressing:

  • Wash your feet thoroughly with lukewarm water. Always check the temperature with your elbow as damaged nerves of the foot won't be able to feel the exact temperature of the water and cause complications.
  • Always wear compression stockings or socks that have soft elastic.
  • Avoid walking barefoot or wearing tight shoes or sandals to ensure that your feet don't get injured.
  • Try to protect your feet from extreme temperatures
  • Refrain from smoking as it can elevate the severity of the condition
  • Avoid consumption of alcoholic beverages

Q. Can a diabetic foot ulcer be left untreated?

A. According to the doctors, it is usually not advisable to leave diabetic foot ulcer untreated. If a diabetic foot ulcer is left untreated, it can lead to serious health issues causing distress. Following are a few complications that can occur if a diabetic foot ulcer is left untreated:

  • Formation of abscess because of infection in the affected area
  • Deformities and weekend muscles that may result in excessive pain while walking
  • Occurrence of gangrene when the blood vessels are damaged enough, and the blood circulation is cut off at the affected area.
  • The infection can emerge on the skin and could reach to bone due to damaged nerves and blood vessels.
  • In rare cases, if the condition is extremely severe, the doctor may suggest amputation in order to prevent infection from spreading to other parts of the body.

Q. What is the cost of diabetic foot ulcer treatment?

A. The average cost of a diabetic foot ulcer treatment may range from Rs. 45,000 to Rs. 55,000. However, this is an average cost that may differ from the final cost of the diabetic foot ulcer treatment depending on the various factors such as:

  • The general fees of a vascular expert
  • The medication prescribed throughout the diabetic foot ulcer treatment
  • The diagnostic tests recommended by the doctor to detect the severity
  • The type of technique used during the treatment to cure diabetic foot ulcer
  • Charges of hospital admission until discharge

Q. What questions should you ask your doctor if seeking diabetic foot ulcer treatment?

A. There are the following questions you can ask your doctor during consultation for a diabetic foot ulcer:

  • Do I have to undergo multiple surgeries to treat the foot ulcer completely?
  • Will I have any disability in walking post foot ulcer surgery?
  • When will I be able to walk post-treatment again?
  • How effective is foot ulcer treatment?
  • What is the success rate of the treatment?
  • How long does it take to recover post-foot ulcer treatment?
  • Should I take a second opinion on my diabetic foot ulcer?

Q. Are there any non-surgical treatments for diabetic foot ulcers?

A. Yes. There are a few non-surgical treatments that may help in managing the symptoms of acute foot ulcers. following are some non-surgical treatment methods-

  • Off-loading or TCC (Total Contact Casting)
  • Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy
  • Medications (ointments)

Q. Which is the most effective treatment for a diabetic foot ulcer?

A. The severity of the diabetic foot ulcer may vary from one patient to another. The doctor will diagnose the condition. After a thorough diagnosis, the doctor would determine and advise the best-suited diabetic foot ulcer treatment technique. However, there are the following treatments that are provided for a diabetic foot ulcer:

  • Debridement
  • Infection Control
  • Vascular Surgeries
  • Reconstructive foot and ankle surgery