Over time, the high levels of blood glucose found in diabetic patients can lead to damaged nerves. Unable to feel sensations in their feet, patients can develop cuts, blisters, or sores that, untreated, become ulcers and infections; eventually, amputations may even be necessary. Blood vessels are also frequently damaged from diabetes. Without proper circulation, feet do not get enough blood circulating, which makes it harder for wounds to heal.

All of these complications can lead to what is called the diabetic foot, a complex problem that demands the experience and expertise of the MedStar Health diabetic specialists, wound care physicians, and vascular surgeons. All members of our teams are well-acquainted with the appropriate treatment and management.

Factors leading to diabetic foot

Three main factors:

  • Neuropathy—many factors cause neuropathy in diabetes. Numbness in the foot is one of the manifestations of diabetic neuropathy.
  • Vascular disease—this is the same as peripheral artery disease (PAD), and is caused by atherosclerosis.
  • Infection

Signs and symptoms

Signs and symptoms may include:

  • An ulcer or sore in the foot
  • Pain
  • Redness in the foot
  • Gangrene

Treatment

The treatment will be directed toward the causes. Often, this means controlling the infection with antibiotics. If extensive infection is present in the foot, your vascular surgeon will recommend surgery to drain the infection. If vascular disease is present, you may undergo one or more tests, such as Duplex ultrasound or arteriography. This may be followed by either open surgery or endovascular surgery to re-establish normal blood flow to the foot. Our team of vascular surgeons and diabetic specialist are dedicated to preventing leg amputation in individuals with diabetes, and have the experience and expertise to effectively treat this problem.

Learn more about diabetic wound care:

Our providers

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Our locations

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MedStar Washington Hospital Center

110 Irving St. NW
Washington, DC 20010

MedStar Health: Medical Center at Chevy Chase

5454 Wisconsin Ave. Barlow Building
11th Fl.
Chevy Chase, MD 20815

MedStar Health: Medical Center at Mitchellville

12158 Central Ave.
Mitchellville, MD 20721

MedStar Montgomery Medical Center

18101 Prince Philip Dr.
Olney, MD 20832

MedStar Health: Lafayette Centre - Building 2

1133 21st St., NW
Building 2
Washington, DC 20036