Usually, a minor cut on the foot is no reason to rush to the emergency room. However, more severe foot wounds, such as a diabetic foot ulcer, require medical treatment from a board-certified doctor as soon as possible.
Foot and ankle specialists play an essential role when it comes to podiatric wound care. Learn more about wound care, the symptoms that may occur when a foot wound needs treatment, and how the highly qualified podiatrists at Comprehensive Foot Specialists in Huntington, NY, regularly diagnose and treat foot wounds.
A wound is defined as damaged skin and tissue layers, usually from an injury, which causes a cut or abrasion. In the event that a wound does not heal properly, it can develop into a chronic wound, meaning it can grow deeper and deeper into the foot, becoming an ulcer. Foot wound symptoms are generally characterized by:
Foot ulcers have very similar traits to general foot wounds, yet have additional, unique symptoms, including:
Diabetic foot ulcers are considered to be one of the most common types of foot wounds. A diabetic foot ulcer is an open sore or wound that usually occurs on the bottom of the foot. Approximately 15% of patients with diabetes develop a foot ulcer, because of the reduced skin sensation and blood flow to parts of the foot. If a diabetic foot ulcer is left untreated, it can lead to hospitalization, surgery, and even amputation.
Diabetes is the primary cause of non-traumatic lower extremity amputations in the United States. Approximately 14-24% of patients with diabetes who develop a foot ulcer require an amputation. Foot ulcers generate 85% of diabetes-related amputations.
Foot wounds can be caused by practically anything, from walking barefoot on rough surfaces to cutting the skin on a sharp object – resulting in a gash. Chronic wounds are frequently caused by other medical conditions, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Foot ulcers develop from many different factors, including a lack of feeling in the foot, poor blood circulation, foot deformities, irritation, friction, pressure, trauma, and injury, as well as a variety of health conditions. Patients who have been diagnosed with diabetes can develop neuropathy, which is a decreased or complete lack of ability to feel pain in the feet, because of nerve damage due to elevated blood glucose levels over a period of time. Alarmingly, nerve damage can occur without pain or other symptoms, which then puts the patient at a higher risk of developing severe problems. Cardiovascular disease can also cause a foot ulcer, by diminishing the body’s capability to recover and increasing the risk of infection as a result of the elevations in blood glucose.
Foot ulcers can be caused by a large list of conditions, but some of the most common are:
The diagnosis of a foot wound is determined during a physical examination. Based on the type of wound, the doctor may require one or more diagnostic tests to gain more information about the wound. For instance, for a foot ulcer, the doctor will ask when it was first noticed, as well as if the patient has any additional health conditions such as neuropathy. The doctor will examine the affected foot by feeling the pulse to test the quality of blood flow in the area. The doctor may also order additional imaging tests (such as X-rays and/or an MRI) to check the alignment of the patient’s bones, loss of bone mass, soft tissue in the foot, inflammation that may be caused by an infection, and the overall extent of the damage generated by the foot ulcer. However, if there is evidence of an infection, the doctor may order a blood test to help confirm if one is present.
Despite the underlying cause, all wounds require attention in spite of the possibility of becoming infected. To prevent progression, wounds should be thoroughly washed under running water and a bandage applied. For more chronic wounds, your doctor may perform serial debridement, where the dead tissue harboring possible bacteria is removed. Ultimately, to prevent further wound formation, the underlying cause must first be understood. At this point, the management of medications or surgery may be the most successful treatment plan.
At Comprehensive Foot Specialists in Huntington, NY, we have the experience and knowledge needed to provide the best treatment for podiatric wounds. From foot wounds that do not heal properly after surgery to diabetic foot ulcers, our board-certified team of podiatrists can help heal your ailment so you can avoid infection and other complications. If your foot wound is not healing properly or you suspect you have an ulcer on your foot, please contact us today to schedule an appointment.
At Comprehensive Foot Specialists, our expert physicians are dedicated to treating a wide variety of foot and ankle conditions so you can live comfortably, 24/7. Contact us today to learn more!Book an Appointment