Diabetic Leg Wounds
An estimated 550 million people in the world will suffer from diabetes by 2030 – and 25% of these people will develop a diabetic wound during their lifetime.
Due to the nature of the disease, diabetic wounds are often slow to heal, and they require medical attention and monitoring to properly mend. Due to the lack of circulation that many times comes with diabetic issues, blood flow can be heavily restricted to the legs, putting your lower limbs at risk for increased damage and pain.
The two most common types of diabetic wounds are those of external origin and internal origin. Each carry their own risks and challenges. Wounds of internal origin, such as calluses and ulcers, can also heavily infect other bodily tissue, such as skin, tendons, and even bones. Wounds of external origin, such as cuts, bruises, and bumps, are often mistaken by patients as “not a big deal” and, if left unattended, can put a person at risk of further complications.
It is estimated that 5.5 million Americans will suffer from a diabetic foot ulcer at some point in their life.
Amongst medical professionals, it is commonly agreed that the main concern with diabetic wounds is the delay in patients’ attention to the wound, and the poor healing process that comes with it.
There are several priorities to focus on when dealing with a diabetic leg wound:
- Assessment: knowing what type of wound you have is a key factor to properly addressing your “next steps.” There are three categories of diabetic wounds: neuropathic wounds include damage of the nerve fibers; ischemic wounds relate to reduced blood flow in your legs; neuroischemic wounds feature a combination of the two issues.
- Controlling Infection: infections are the most serious aspect of a diabetic wound, and can lead to a variety of further complications and medical issues for a diabetic wound patient – up to and including death. As such, a top concern for medical professionals needs to be a full assessment of the wound and a specific plan for healing.
- Debridement: the removal of dead and dying tissue from the immediate area surrounding a wound is called debridement. Removing this necrotic tissue will allow for faster healing of the wound, and will also reduce pressure to the area, assist with wound drainage, and allow medical professionals to visualize and inspect the area more clearly and effectively.
- Reducing Pressure: most of us are on our feet or using our feet for the vast majority of our day. This leads to a tremendous amount of pressure being put on our lower bodies, and a leg with a wound will be impacted by this pressure even further. Pressure reduction, also known as offloading, can be achieved by either putting a focus on staying off your feet, or by utilizing a device such as a removable cast or an assistive walking cane.
- Stabilizing Wound Moisture: another important piece in effectively healing a diabetic leg wound is choosing the correct type and amount of dressing for the wound. Appropriate dressing will neither dry out nor over-moisturize a wound, and will also allow the wound to drain any excess fluid as needed. All together, these considerations will allow for maximum effective wound healing to occur.