Blood vessel and nerve damage linked with diabetes can lead to serious infections that are extremely hard to treat. Often the first place you have a problem is your feet. When you lose the ability to feel your toes and feet, you are more likely to injure them without knowing it. Even a minor injury, such as a small cut, can develop into an ulcer and a serious infection.
Infections of the feet can spread up into the leg. Sometimes the infection is so severe that the foot and possibly part of the leg must be amputated. Diabetes is the leading cause of amputations that are not related to an accident.
Amputations are done when efforts to save the foot or leg are unsuccessful or the infection is causing extensive tissue damage. In all cases, doctors save as much of a person's foot or leg as possible. But they try to make sure that the remaining part of the limb will heal so that further surgery is not necessary.
A serious infection can be life-threatening. In these cases, an amputation may save your life.
If you are faced with needing an amputation, talk with your doctor about how it can benefit you. Often amputation relieves the severe pain linked with an infection, as well as getting rid of the infection and the need to take strong antibiotics. Also, modern prosthetic devices are lightweight, making walking as easy as possible after an amputation.
Having a foot or leg amputated is traumatic and means a major body-image change. Allow yourself time to grieve and deal with what losing a part of your body means to you. If you need help, talk with a health professional about emotional counselling. You may also find it helpful to talk with a person who has had an amputation.
|American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons (ACFAS)|
|8725 West Higgins Road|
|Chicago, IL 60631-2724|
The American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons provides information on surgery and shoe selection as well as the care and treatment of heel, toe, ankle, nerve, tendon, nail, and skin conditions; sports injuries; diabetic foot problems; arthritis; and resources in your local area. Some information is available in Spanish.
|Canadian Diabetes Association|
|National Life Building|
|1400-522 University Avenue|
|Toronto, ON M5G 2R5|
The Canadian Diabetes Association (CDA) is devoted to meeting the needs of people with diabetes in Canada. This organization provides general information about diabetes and its care. It organizes summer camps for young people with diabetes and conducts educational seminars to help people manage their diabetes. The CDA also sells a range of products, including cookbooks, in its stores.
|Primary Medical Reviewer||John Pope, MD - Pediatrics|
|Primary Medical Reviewer||Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine|
|Specialist Medical Reviewer||David C.W. Lau, MD, PhD, FRCPC - Endocrinology|
|Last Revised||December 21, 2010|
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