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Regular Podiatry Examinations Crucial for Diabetes Patients

Posted by floriza in Podiatry

The Thomson Reuters Healthcare Study has shown that doctors of podiatry play a key role in preventing diabetes patients from suffering critical foot complications and amputations. The study was published in the Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association (JAPMA) in March/April 2011.

According to the study results, podiatry visits to treat early signs of foot complications in diabetics could save the U.S. $3.5 billion annually in health care costs. This would largely be as a result of avoiding the need for amputations. The total annual cost in the U.S. of diabetes care is more than $170 billion.

An additional study conducted at Duke University showed that podiatry visits cut down on the need for amputations by 23 to 69 percent. This was compared with care provided by other types of physicians.

Diabetes and the Feet

The American Diabetes Association says that nearly 26 million people in the U.S. have diabetes, and 70 percent of them suffer from some form of nerve damage in the feet. Amputations are so common in diabetes patients, that a lower limb must be removed every 30 seconds. In fact, diabetes is the number one cause of amputation of the feet and lower limbs. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 65,000 lower limb amputations were performed in 2006 as a result of complications from diabetes.

The amputations are usually a result of what is called diabetic neuropathy, which causes poor circulation in the feet due to a hardening of the blood vessels. As the condition progresses, the pain subsides, and diabetic patients lose sensation in their feet. As a result, they may not be quick to notice the symptoms that could lead to the necessity for an amputation. Once enough damage to the tissues has taken place, the foot cannot be saved.

Diabetics are advised to watch for warning signs, which include cuts that refuse to heal, pain, swelling, numbness, a feeling of coldness in the feet when touched, redness, and a change in the shape of the foot.

November 2011 is the American Podiatric Medical Association’s Knock Your Socks Off campaign to promote diabetes awareness. According to the Association, Hispanics are at particular risk of developing diabetes – 66 percent more likely than other populations. As a result, 12 percent of Hispanics are diabetic.

What is Podiatry?

Podiatry is the medical specialization that cares for the foot, ankles, and lower legs. Podiatrists are termed DPM for Doctor of Podiatric Medicine, and most are board-certified. Podiatry in New Jersey and other locations can provide preventative care and treatment of the feet for diabetics and non-diabetics

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