Amputation. Scared yet? It was probably one of the first words you heard when you were told you had diabetes.
Since day one in my life with Diabetes it has been drilled into my head to "check your feet daily." Never, ever go barefoot. Not once - and I haven't except for the bathtub since January 10, 1994. With the risk that we have for poor circulation and nerve damage we might not notice, coupled with an impaired ability to heal normally, it is good advice. Something as simple as a blister or a cut on a foot can lead to infection. All too often it leads to the amputation of a toe, foot or leg. In fact, diabetes has long been the #1 cause of lower extremity amputations.
I came across some good news from the Centers For Disease Control. Even though more people than ever are being diagnosed with diabetes, the risk of complications leading to amputation are down. Down a lot. A copy of the press release can be found at this link. More revealing is a chart that depicts how amputation rates for people with diabetes has declined markedly from 1988 to 2006.
During that period, amputations have declined from 7.3 per thousand diabetics to 3.5.
There are probably several causes for the decline. Among them are that people who are newly diagnosed dilute the ratio. Further, complications tend to worsen the longer a person has the disease and these new patients are often not at the point of experiencing severe complications. Better patient education certainly contributes to decreasing the rate as do advances in treatment. In any event, this is good news and we must all redouble our efforts at treatment compliance, conducting daily foot checks and educating others.