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Amputation and diabetes: How to protect your feet
What if amputation is the only option?
Treatments for foot ulcers vary depending on the severity of the wound. In general, the treatment employs methods to remove dead tissues or debris, keep the wound clean, and promote healing. When the condition results in a severe loss of tissue or a life-threatening infection, an amputation may be the only option.
A surgeon removes the damaged tissue and preserves as much healthy tissue as possible. After surgery, you'll be monitored in the hospital for a number of days. It may take four to eight weeks for your wound to heal completely.
In addition to your primary care doctor and surgeon, other medical professionals involved in your treatment plan may include:
- Endocrinologist, a physician who specializes in the treatment of diabetes or other hormone-related disorders
- Physical therapist, who will help you regain strength, balance and coordination and teach you how to use an artificial (prosthetic) limb, wheelchair or other devices to improve your mobility
- Occupational therapist, who specializes in therapy to improve everyday skills and to use adaptive products that help with everyday activities
- Mental health provider, such as a psychologist or psychiatrist, who can help you address your own feelings or expectations related to the amputation or to cope with the reaction of other people
- Social worker, who can assist with accessing services and planning for changes in care
Even after amputation, it's important to follow your diabetes treatment plan. Eating healthy foods, exercising regularly, controlling your blood sugar level and avoiding tobacco can help you prevent additional diabetes complications.Previous page
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- Brownlee M, et al. Complications of diabetes mellitus. In: Kronenberg HM, et al. Williams Textbook of Endocrinology. 12th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2011. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/191205553-3/0/1555/0.html#. Accessed June 7, 2011.
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- Foot complications. American Diabetes Association. http://www.diabetes.org/type-2-diabetes/foot-complications.jsp. Accessed July 14, 2011.
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