Foot ulcers can send you to the doctor, but if not treated, it can lead to an amputation, which is why taking care of your feet is important. April is Foot Health Awareness Month, and according to foot.com, most Americans log 75,000 miles on their feet by the time they reach 50, so damage to your feet can impact your life.
Doctor Paul Nioce, the Medical Director at the Center for Wound Care & Hyperbaric Medicine through Comanche County Memorial Hospital, said there are 6.7 million people with foot ulcers in the United States and two million of those are diabetic foot ulcers.
“And this accounts for a lot of lost quality of life, productivity,” Dr. Nioce said. “It has a negative impact on people’s lives and especially when we start talking about the potential for amputation.”
He said a majority of amputations are from diabetic foot ulcers.
“When you or I have a pebble in our shoe, we do something immediately to get that pebble out,” Dr. Nioce said. “But, when somebody has diabetes or something else that causes neuropathy, where they don’t feel their feet, they’ll have a pebble in their shoe, and they’ll walk on it all day, and by the end of the day when they take their shoe off, they have a significant sore there.”
There are ways to prevent foot ulcers or catch them early.
He says those are: controlling your sugars, having daily foot inspections along with washing your feet daily, trimming toenails correctly, not walking barefoot, and wearing shoes that fit.
If you notice a foot ulcer, he said you should call your primary care doctor, and they can treat it if it’s minor or send you to wound care.
“Obviously, we’re here to help,” Dr. Nioce said. “But, people don’t want to spend their lives going to doctor’s appointments, they don’t want to spend their lives getting this test or that test, so a little bit of prevention can go a long way.”
Doctor Nioce said they measure patients’ wounds weekly, so they see if they’re making progress.
“It’s kinda rewarding to see the graph…oh yeah, they’re making progress, and we’re on the right track. We can actually make an estimate of you should be healed about this point, and we can follow the graph to the conclusion,” he said.
Doctor Nioce said it’s important to keep going to your appointments during this pandemic so you can keep making progress, and the ulcers don’t get worse.
To keep everybody safe, patients are getting their temperature checked before they can even enter the Wound Care Center.