Amputation describes the loss or removal of a part of your body. From your ability to move and interact easily with others to struggling with phantom limb pain and the emotional toll losing a foot takes, no part of your life is untouched after amputation.
Many people in the US undergo surgical amputation due to trauma, like an accident or injury. However, most foot amputations in America relate to diabetes and vascular disease. There are at least 230 diabetes-related amputations every day in the US.
At New Canaan Podiatry in New Canaan, Connecticut, board-certified podiatrist Jennifer Tauber, DPM, offers limb salvage and preservation, helping hundreds of patients keep their feet with our specialized care.
If you’re at risk of needing an amputation, take a moment to learn more about the conditions that increase your risk, the steps you can take to lower your chances of amputation, and how our team can help.
Do certain conditions increase my risk of foot amputation?
People end up facing foot amputation for different reasons. For example, a serious trauma could cause damage to the foot and limb that won’t heal, necessitating amputation to save the rest of the limb. Other people may need amputation to stop the spread of certain cancers.
For many patients, infection and vascular disease play a role in their foot health and the need for amputation. Here’s a closer look:
Severe infection can poison your blood (sepsis), spreading through your body and causing the tissue to die. Your toes and feet, along with your hands and fingers, are often the first casualties of sepsis.
Often these infections are drug resistant and will cause death if not treated. To save your life, an amputation may be necessary to prevent further spread of the infection.
Amputation may also be needed for infection related to diabetic neuropathy. This nerve damage caused by complications related to uncontrolled blood sugar causes you to lose sensation in your feet.
This means you may not feel cuts, skin irritations, or blisters you develop. As a result, there’s a higher risk of these wounds getting infected and of gangrene developing, increasing your need for surgical amputation.
Most surgical amputations in the US result from complications related to vascular disease, or conditions that affect how your blood circulates and flows in your body.
More Americans than ever have diabetes, a condition that increases your risk of these circulatory problems and peripheral artery disease (PAD). This is because uncontrolled high blood sugar damages your blood vessels and circulatory system.
PAD can cause blockages in your blood vessels, preventing your feet from getting enough blood to stay healthy. As a result, any wounds or injuries your feet experience don’t heal quickly and are more likely to get infected, increasing your risk of amputation.
How can I preserve my foot and avoid amputation?
If you have diabetes or have PAD or a related condition, you can take steps to preserve the health of your foot and reduce your risk of amputation. Research shows the best thing you can do is get your blood sugar under control.
Checking your blood sugar regularly and taking any medications prescribed by your healthcare team is crucial. Making lifestyle changes, like losing weight, exercising, and eating a balanced diet based on whole plant foods, can play an even bigger role in managing your diabetes.
You can also take steps to protect your foot health by paying extra attention to your feet. Regularly check for any cuts, blisters, or broken or numb skin. If you spot any problems, schedule an appointment with your podiatrist immediately.
See a foot preservation specialist
Suppose you have a condition that increases your risk of needing foot amputation, in addition to lifestyle and proactive healthcare steps. In that case, it’s important to have routine foot care from a podiatrist who specializes in limb salvage and preservation.
At New Canaan Podiatry, Dr. Tauber and the team use different techniques to improve your chances of maintaining your foot. The right treatment for you depends on the nature of your amputation risk and the condition of your foot.
Some patients benefit from routine diabetic foot care exams at least twice a year, as recommended by the American Diabetes Association. Diabetic foot care involves a head-to-toe exam to check for issues related to your condition as well as:
- Custom shoe and orthotics
- Toenail trimming
- Wound debridement
- Treatment of any infections
Dr. Tauber also specializes in other limb preservation techniques, including advanced wound care, reconstructive surgery, external fixation, skin grafting and placental-based grafts, and soft tissue expansion.
Learn how to preserve your foot and avoid amputation by scheduling an evaluation online or over the phone with Dr. Tauber at New Canaan Podiatry.