3 Things You Need to Know About Diabetic Amputation

Diabetes, Type 1 and 2, has complicated and cost many people their lives. Oftentimes individuals suffering from diabetes require amputation due to complications caused by the disease. Permanent prosthesis and artificial limbs are made available to such patients so that they can stay mobile.

1.Why Diabetes can Lead to Amputation?

Diabetes often leads to or is linked to peripheral artery disease (PAD). PAD is when the arteries in your legs narrow, which restricts or cuts off blood flow to the muscles in the legs.

When the blood flow to your feet and legs is restricted you have less sensation there. If this continues it can lead to nerve damage, known as peripheral neuropathy, which inhibits individuals from feeling pain.

When an individual cannot feel pain they may let blisters and small wounds get worse than they would if they could feel them.

This, paired with the fact that diabetics heal more slowly than others due to high levels of glucose in the blood, means that wounds also become more easily infected because the body is less equipped to fight the infection.

These initially small wounds often turn into large infections and ulcers. With decelerated healing the tissue quickly takes on permanent damage and begins to die; causing gangrene. If left untreated this infection will spread to the bone. Now the only way to stop the infection is to remove the infected flesh via amputation.

This is why it is not uncommon for diabetics to don prosthetics, especially for feet and lower legs.

2.Who is at Risk of Diabetic Amputation?

All diabetics are at risk of developing PAD or a similar, serious infection. Managing your blood sugar levels well and inspecting your feet often are good ways to steer clear of amputation. There are however, some factors which place you at a higher risk of developing severe PAD and infection including:

  • Smoking
  • High glucose diets
  • Age
  • Activity level

Sadly, even if you are a diabetic that takes excellent care of themselves amputation cannot be ruled out as there comes a point where this is the only way left to save your life from a severe infection.

3.How Common is Diabetic Amputation?

Put simply, more than half of non-injury related, lower limb and extremity amputations are carried out as a result of complications from diabetes. It is more than a “common occurrence” in the medical field and many people who are fit with permanent prosthesis are diabetics.

Artificial limbs and prosthetics are made available to those who have undergone diabetic amputation in an attempt to keep them moving and independent.

The amputation wound must be well looked after and the prosthesis must be a perfect fit to ensure it doesn’t get infected later on.

Permanent prostheses are made available by Meintjes and Neethling to help those who have lost feet or lower extremities to complications from diabetes. Contact us for more details.