What exactly is a foot ulcer? It is a sore on the foot where the skin has opened up to reveal underlying tissues. It may be superficial to begin with but can quickly develop into a crater like shape that goes further into the foot. There are different stages of ulcers, some which can just involve the surface of the foot and some that may involve deeper layers of the foot, including muscles, tendons, nerves, and bone.
Causes of foot ulcers can vary. Typically, those with poor blood circulation are more prone to have ulcers which is why it seems to be that people with diabetes tend to be the population more likely to develop an ulcer on the foot, with about 15% of diabetics developing a foot ulcer at some point in their lifetime. Things such as minor trauma to the foot in those with neuropathy can be the trigger of the ulcer because you may go days or weeks without realizing there is a wound on the bottom of the foot. People that are are sedentary or bed bound can also have decreased circulation to the foot and an ulcer can eventually form on the foot or heel. Other risk factors may include: wearing poorly fitted shoes, poor hygiene, nerve damage to the foot, and smoking.
Management of a foot ulcer is of utmost importance. The first step is to start by making and keeping appointments with your podiatrist. From there, each individual case is different and will require frequent monitoring and assessment of the ulcer. Some common treatments may include wound debridment, wearing appropriate therapeutic foot wear to prevent worsening of the ulcer, dressing the ulcer and maintaining a clean and sterile dressing, controlling blood glucose, infection control, and antibiotic therapy.
Sometimes hospitalization can occur from foot ulcer related conditions, such as infection, and we strive to avoid this. Working together with your podiatrist will keep you on the right track. Together with your podiatrist, you will have a treatment plan that is unique to your needs.Call our office with any questions or to set up an appointment.