Don't Let Foot Wounds Go Untreated
By the time most Americans are 50 they have walked an amazing 75,000 miles, the American Podiatric Medical Association reports. During our lifetime, our feet withstand a tremendous amount of wear and tear. Yet, most of us take healthy feet for granted. It's important that everyone take good care of their feet, and this is even more crucial for people who have foot problems that may be related to diabetes, poor circulation, or both.
"Many people can have early or undiagnosed problems with their feet," said Prasad Kilaru, M.D., a Fremont Plastic Surgeon and medical director of the Washington Center for Wound Healing and Hyperbaric Medicine. "These problems need to be identified and treated as soon as possible."
"Tiny ulcers or injuries left untreated can increase to larger wounds and ulcers, and this can eventually lead to hospitalization and even amputation of the foot or leg," continued Dr. Kilaru. "A high percentage of people who require amputation have foot wounds."
In one recent year, more than 90,000 non-traumatic lower limb amputations were performed in the U.S., according to the American Diabetes Association. Sixty percent of these were in people with diabetes.
You can get your feet checked out at a free Foot Screening and consultation sponsored by the Center for Wound Healing and Hyperbaric Medicine on Saturday, Feb. 23 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Pre-registration for the screening is required. Call (510) 248-1518 to make your appointment.
The screening will be held at the Center, which is near Washington Hospital, at 39141 Civic Center Drive, Suite 106, in Fremont.
"The free Foot Screening is our way of giving back to the community and educating residents about proper foot care and how to treat potential or early problems before they become major difficulties," Dr. Kilaru explained.
At the screening, members of the wound care clinic's highly trained clinical team, including physicians and nurses, will check for problems with a patient's feet or lower legs. The screening is not a full physical examination and no treatment, such as prescriptions or dressings, will be provided. If foot problems are detected, the doctors and nurses will offer advice and referrals for follow-up care. Depending on the type of problem, patients may need to see a podiatrist or vascular surgeon, or they may need to seek treatment at the wound care clinic.
"Whenever possible, we will co-ordinate with the patient's primary care physician," Dr. Kilaru added.
Physicians, nurses and ancillary staff who will be at the screening are trained in wound care and have been with the clinic for at least two years. A history and examination of the feet and lower legs will be performed, as well as limited testing with equipment in the clinic. There will be no invasive tests. The staff will also provide people at the screening with a private, personalized lesson in how to care for their feet.
"Anyone who has an open wound on their foot or lower leg that is not healing or has been present for more than four weeks should make an appointment and come to the screening," advised Dr. Kilaru. "All people with diabetes or circulatory problems will also benefit from this service."
He recommends foot screening for anyone who has problems with their feet, such as diabetic ulcers or neuropathy associated with diabetes. With neuropathy, nerves are damaged and people don't have full sensation in their feet. They may feel a tingling sensation or a feeling of pins and needles pricking the skin.
Other conditions that would benefit from foot screening include:
* poor circulation;
* venous stasis ulcers, which are wounds that may occur when the valves in the veins of the legs don?t function properly; and
* arterial ulcers that can occur when arteries in the legs are partially or completely blocked.
"Diabetes is the most common problem involving the feet," observed Dr. Kilaru. "But pour circulation, which may or may not be related to diabetes, can also affect wound healing. Neuropathy, which is a decrease or loss in sensation, can make an injury more likely."
To learn more about foot problems related to diabetes, visit the web site of the American Diabetes Association at www.diabetes.org. For information about foot health in general, go to www.apma.org. For more information about the Washington Center for Wound Healing and Hyperbaric Medicine, visit www.whhs.com/wound.