Foot ulcers are a major problem for diabetics. About 15% of people with diabetes will get a foot ulcer at some point during their lives, and as many as 20% of those people will need to have the affected foot amputated. Proper treatment, including treatment with orthotics, can help diabetic foot ulcers heal. Here are three things diabetics need to know about orthotic treatment for foot ulcers.
What does orthotic treatment involve?
Orthotic treatment can be used in conjunction with other treatments, like debridement or antibiotics, for foot ulcers. If your doctor thinks that orthotics could help your healing process, you'll be sent to a podiatrist to receive the devices.
The podiatrist will examine your feet and then evaluate your gait (the way you walk). Next, they'll make a plaster cast of your feet. This 3D cast will then be used to create perfectly-fitted orthotics for your feet. It can take two to three weeks for a laboratory to make your orthotics, and when they're ready, your podiatrist will check the fit to make sure no adjustments are necessary. You'll then have to wear these orthotics inside your shoes at all times.
How does orthotic treatment work?
Pressure spots on the bottoms of your feet can cause ulcers, and continued pressure keeps them from healing. If the nerves in your feet are damaged due to diabetes, you may not realize that the bottoms of your feet—including your stubborn ulcers—are being subjected to continuous pressure.
Orthotics work by relieving pressure on your ulcers. Well-designed orthotics can spread pressure evenly along the bottoms of your feet, which gives your ulcers the opportunity they need to heal. Once your ulcers have healed, your podiatrist may tell you to continue wearing the orthotics to prevent the development of future foot ulcers.
How effective is orthotic treatment?
Orthotic treatment has been shown to be very effective in the treatment of diabetic foot ulcers. One study followed 117 diabetic patients with a history of foot ulcers to determine the effectiveness of their orthotics. Two years after the patients started wearing their orthotics, their re-ulceration rate was only 15%, while the amputation rate was a mere 6%. To put these numbers into perspective, before they started orthotic therapy, the re-ulceration rate was a whopping 79%, while 54% required foot amputations.
If you develop a diabetic foot ulcer, orthotics may be used in conjunction with other methods to help you heal. Visit http://www.westcentralpodiatry.com for more information.