Diabetes is a disease characterized by high-glucose (aka blood sugar) levels. Not only must you monitor your diet, cholesterol, blood pressure, and possibly take insulin, you're also at risk of developing other complications of diabetes, such as coronary heart disease, nerve damage, and stroke.
Diabetes doesn’t just affect your body internally, either. Visible sores on the bottom of the feet are another possible, and common, complication. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT), which utilizes highly pressurized oxygen to heal damaged body tissue, is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to heal these open wounds, as well as help prevent further medical complications from developing.
THESE DIABETIC SORES ON YOUR FEET ARE ULCERS.
As discussed in one of our previous posts, diabetic foot ulcers are open wounds that can develop on the bottom of the feet. They are often painful, and may become infected if untreated, which could result in amputation.
Several symptoms are associated with these diabetic sores. One is any skin discoloration on the bottom or side of your foot/feet. You may also notice your skin becoming red, blue, and/or even black. Additionally, walking or standing may be uncomfortable, as pressure on the foot causes pain. Lastly, diabetic sores may blister or swell up, making it difficult to perform simple, daily tasks.
HOW SERIOUS IS THIS CONDITION?
Diabetic foot ulcers pose serious health risks and can even lead to amputation if not treated effectively.
According to a September 2017 article published by San Diego, Calif.-based television station KPBS, the Golden State experienced a substantial increase in amputations due to lower diabetic extremity wounds over the course of six years:
“Statewide, lower-limb amputations increased by more than 31 percent from 2010 to 2016 when adjusted for population change," it states. "In San Diego County, the increase was more than twice that: 66.4 percent.”
It’s not just California that’s seen a jump in diabetic-related amputations, however. The article refers to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which document a 27 percent increase in these surgical procedures nationally, from 2009 to 2014.
Although there isn't a definitive reason for such a spike, the piece suggests an aging population and the "inadequate" diagnosing and managing of these wounds as contributing factors.
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO TREAT THESE SORES?
Fortunately, there are several diabetic wound care tips you can follow to help better manage this condition. For example, regularly cleaning and inspecting your feet can prevent sores from happening or catch them early. In addition, consistently visiting a trusted podiatrist to assess your condition is also recommended, as he or she can prescribe any necessary antibiotics, and very likely provide valuable insight as to whether or not your wounds are healing, or worsening.
A podiatrist can also educate you about available treatments, which include stem cell therapy and hyperbaric oxygen therapy. The former was reported as a viable treatment option by independent community website Diabetics.co.uk in October 2017. The latter is actually an FDA-approved treatment for diabetic foot ulcers, as previously mentioned. While some people see positive results by utilizing this all-natural therapy by itself, others notice a significant improvement in their condition by using HBOT in conjunction with other treatments. In fact, work is being done combining HBOT and stem cell therapy as a powerful synergistic healing method.
An ever-growing body of research details the many potential benefits of utilizing HBOT as a treatment for diabetic foot ulcers. Among these, it can expose damaged body tissue to highly pressurized oxygen-rich blood, which promotes blood vessel growth, can help reduce inflammation and swelling, prevent bacterial infections, and overall, help facilitate healing.
Learn more about hyperbaric oxygen therapy as a treatment for lower extremity wounds due to diabetes, HERE.