Harm to nerves and blood vessels associated with diabetes could cause grave infections which are exceedingly tricky in treating. Oftentimes, the foremost place where the issue crops up is the feet. Amputations are the last resort when infection in the leg or foot has caused wide-ranging tissue injury or turned out to be life-menacing.
Causes & Complications of Diabetes Amputations
Nearly seventy percent of diabetics ail from nerve disorder and damage that encompasses the entire body and the prime reason of upper or lower extremity amputations, according to the International Diabetes Federation. Jointly, the disorders causal to such amputations are termed as Diabetic Neuropathies. It is often noticed among individuals who fail to control their blood glucose levels, people in their forties, those who are overweight or with high level of lipids in their blood.
Based on which nerves are affected, signs and symptoms could be ranging from pains and lack of feeling/deadness in the lower/upper extremity of the body to issues with the cardiovascular, urinary or digestive system. Pains could be mild-ranging to acute, incapacitating and also fatal.
Mayo Clinic points out that such form of diabetes related injury to nerves reduces the person’s ability to sense pains or any discomforting feeling in the feet. There is greater likelihood of injuring foot and toes sans being aware of it. A failure to sense any blistering or cuts developing on the foot could lead to further grave complications. Just minor injuries like tiny grazes could turn ulcerous and become a grave infection that can easily affect the entire leg. Infection severity then leave doctors will no choice but to amputate the foot and perhaps a portion of the leg.
Main causes of amputations are diabetes in the presence of absence of either peripheral vascular disease or peripheral arterial disease. Peripheral vascular disease is a condition affecting peripheral circulation that causes intermittent claudication because of pitiable blood supply to the arteries in the legs, typically causing aches, cramps, tiredness and at times sporadic, stinging sensation in the legs.
Peripheral arterial disease or PAD is a progressive disorder resulting from hardening, constriction or blockage of arteries supplying oxygenated blood to the upper/lower extremities, abdominal or pelvic regions. As a result the muscles of the leg fail to receive sufficient blood supply resulting in symptoms like tightness, squeezing, numbness or coldness felt in the toe or foot areas coupled with a decrease in leg strength and functioning, pitiable poise while one stands and slow healing sores. A combination of these factors augments the chances of infection, tissue injury as well as amputations.
The American Diabetic Association points out that an individual who resorts to smoking has a heightened risk of amputations. Diabetic smokers make themselves susceptible to amputations since tobacco can further contract the blood vessels, thwart blood circulation to the toes and augment the likelihood of blood clots that impair blood supply. The healing process also slackens due to this dire habit.
Any type of blistering, ulcerous formations, dry cracked skin or grazes developing on the feet could cause infection. Inadequate blood flow, depleted oxygenation or nutrient supply and neuropathies could collectively aggravate any sore or cut to cause ulcerations which could reach the bones. Such ulcerous formations damage the skin leaving bare areas that provide ample chance for fungal and bacterial forms to thrive and proliferate inside the bodily tissues. Such a complication could mean losing the affected foot, leg or maybe even with lethal consequences.
When an edge of nail on any of the digits of your foot grows abnormally into skin of a toe or the nail fold then onychocryptosis develops which could infringe the skin’s integrity. Any infection of the feet caused by fungus too could cause ulcers and infection when appropriate timely treatment is not followed. Any malformation in the foot like tips of the toe/s curling downwards alike claws (hammer toe) or excruciating bony growth forming around the joint at the basal portion of the hallux (bunion) could also have the same repercussions when untreated.
Due to lack of sensation in the feet such disorders or abnormal growths may not be noticed. Improper fitting footwear could lead to friction and ulcers which can escalate to infections and ultimately necessitate amputations.
Foot ulcerations are comparatively prevalent among diabetics and when they develop an infection or blood circulation is acutely hindered then the foot or leg would have to be amputated. People having diabetes who have gone through the ordeal of an amputation are at an augmented risk of developing recurrent ulcers that might not heal and lead to a vicious cycle of amputations.