WSJ: A Simple Step to Cut Diabetes Costs — Check Feet Daily
Your feet are so critical but we take them for granted… Avoid amputation – inspect them often!!!
Almost 26 million Americans—just over 8% of the population—are identified as having diabetes, and roughly two million people are newly diagnosed each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than half of those patients are at risk for developing diabetic neuropathy, or nerve damage, which can cause a loss of feeling in legs and feet and in severe cases lead to lower-extremity amputations.
Foot problems take a big toll: As a common cause of hospitalizations among diabetic patients, they help drive up diabetes-related costs, which totaled $245 billion in 2012, according to the American Diabetes Association, up 41% from 2007.
The good news, doctors say, is that daily inspection and cleansing of the feet—which isn’t complicated or expensive—can go a long way toward preventing foot ulcers, which can lead to amputations. The CDC estimates that good foot care could reduce the risk of amputation in diabetic patients by 45% to 85%.
Because blood flow is reduced in those with diabetes, feet lack feeling and the chances of stepping on sharp or other damaging objects without knowing it are increased. Blisters, bunions, calluses and abrasions may go unnoticed, and a minor foot blister can easily become gangrenous, which is why diabetic patients must check their feet and toes daily. It’s also important for patients to wash their feet in mild to tepid water, dry them thoroughly and apply lotion to protect against fissures in the skin, which can become a breeding ground for infection, according to the Joslin Diabetes Center inBoston.
Other simple changes to protect feet include never wearing shoes without socks and never walking in bare feet. Shoes that give the foot room to breathe, such as tennis-type shoes or special shoes that distribute pressure evenly on the feet and don’t squeeze the toes, help keep feet healthy. Regular visits to a doctor for foot exams and to a podiatrist to have nails trimmed without damaging the feet can reduce costs per patient by up to $20,000 annually, says Alex Kor, a podiatrist at Johns Hopkins and an expert in diabetic foot care.