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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Diseases and Conditions > Diabetic Foot Ulcer
      Category : Health Centers > Diabetes

Diabetic Foot Ulcer

Alternate Names : Diabetic Foot Wound, Diabetic Neuropathic Ulceration, Mal Perforant Ulcer, Diabetic Dermal Ulcer, Diabetic Dermal Wound

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

A diabetic foot ulcer is an open sore or wound on the foot of a person with diabetes. Because of loss of pain sensation, it is usually not painful.

What is going on in the body?

A person with diabetes often has peripheral vascular disease, or decreased circulation to the legs and feet. Any damage to the feet may heal slowly because of the poor circulation. The person may also have diabetic neuropathy, a condition in which nerve damage from diabetes causes decreased sensation in the legs and feet. The person can develop an open area from pressure or from a cut and not even feel the sore. Untreated, the damaged area can develop a diabetic foot ulcer.

What are the causes and risks of the condition?

A diabetic foot ulcer is caused by direct damage to the skin, such as a cut, or by pressure, such as that from poorly fitting shoes. The following factors increase a person's chance of developing a foot ulcer:

  • diabetic neuropathy, with damage to the nerves supplying the feet
  • peripheral vascular disease, with decreased blood flow to the feet
  • a history of 10 years or more of diabetes
  • smoking
  • male gender
  • blood sugar levels that are not under control
  • diabetic retinopathy, or damage to the retina of the eye from diabetes
  • cardiovascular problems caused by diabetes
  • kidney problems caused by diabetes, including chronic renal failure
  • a history of skin ulcers or amputation of a limb
  • conditions caused by increased pressure on the feet, such as corns and calluses
  • foot bones that are deformed or have limited movement, such as bunions
  • thick toenails

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    Diabetic Foot Ulcer: Symptoms & Signs

    Author: Bill O'Halloran, DPM
    Reviewer: Eileen McLaughlin, RN, BSN
    Date Reviewed: 07/02/01



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