A diabetic foot ulcer is a major complication caused by diabetes mellitus characterized by a sore under or at the side of the foot, or sometimes even the ankles. It is a painful and grotesque injury that could lead to further mishaps that are only worsened by the impaired healing function of a diabetic patient’s body.
A diabetic foot ulcer is one of the common symptoms of diabetes. More than 40% of diabetic patients can get this nasty foot sore, while 25% of that percentage have been hospitalized due to the injury. While a diabetic foot ulcer, in and of itself, is nothing but a minor wound, this condition is only serious due to the fact that the patient is suffering from diabetes. This means that it is very unlikely for the wound to heal. It should be dressed and treated at all times and checked frequently by a doctor.
A diabetic foot ulcer that is left untreated could lead to serious infections, gangrenes, and more serious illnesses. If your body does not succumb to these two symptoms, then the only option left to remove the foot ulcer is to have your foot amputated, and this is one thing we would all like to avoid.
This foot sore brought by diabetes is caused by various factors, but it’s commonly due to stress and pressure being applied on the patient’s foot. To simply state, a diabetic foot sore can open up when a patient has been standing too long, walking too much, stepping on a pebble, or by directly opening the skin with a cut. Once a tissue on the foot has been ripped apart or opened up, it is impossible to heal, and therefore leads to a diabetic foot ulcer. Other factors leading to the formation of a diabetic foot ulcer could be other diseases such as diabetic neuropathy ( a disease of peripheral nerves that cause weakness of the body), vascular diseases, and inadequate blood circulations. Bad habits such as drugs, smoking, and liquor, and injuries such as simple wounds, scars, previous foot ulcers, and previous amputations could also lead to the formation of diabetic foot ulcers.
A diabetic foot ulcer is an ominous symptom that could leave one bedridden for a very long time, if not for a lifetime. As such, these injuries must be treated as soon as they show signs of forming. A diabetic foot ulcer sometimes come unexpectedly and for seemingly no reason. This is why one must learn the symptoms and early stages of this dangerous injury, so that it may be treated the moment it is recognized.
According to medical practices, a diabetic foot ulcer is evaluated into 5 grades using the “Wagner Ulcer Classification System.” Here are the evaluations according to the system:
Grade 0 – No open lesion; may have deformity or cellulitis.. At Grade 0, the diabetic foot ulcer is at its most unnoticeable state. It may not be seen, but it can be felt, and it is surely there. The patient may not notice any visual changes, but may feel discomfort or pain. There may also be minor foot deformities such as small pinprick holes in place of an opened skin. At grade 0, the best course of action would be to minimize risks and not to allow the diabetic foot ulcer to grow bigger. One way to do this is rest, stop taxing physical activities, and treat the wound. Visit a doctor for more information on how to prevent the worsening of foot ulcers.
Grade 1 – Superficial diabetic ulcer (partial or full thickness). At grade 1, the diabetic foot ulcer is at its most recognizable state. The injury could only be a small opening on the skin of the foot, or a thick one. It is guaranteed that the patient will now feel most of the symptoms at this stage. At stage one, the first thing you should do is try to keep the wound clean, safe, and dressed. You wouldn’t want your ulcer to get infected.
Grade 2 – Ulcer extension to ligament, tendon, joint capsule, or deep fascia without abscesses or osteomyelitis. At this stage, the diabetic ulcer has grown so tremendous that it has extended to your ligaments, tendons, and muscles. This results to excruciating pain, oozing of pus, bleeding, and gangrene. The best thing to do in this stage would be to prevent infection, keep the wound safe and untouched, and visit a doctor regularly. At this stage, the patient is still safe to live at home without the full supervision of nurses and doctors. Furthermore, if the ulcer shows no signs of improving and is gradually getting worse, your doctor may have to suggest an amputation.
Grade 3 – Deep ulcer with abscesses, or joint sepsis. This stage is similar to the second stage. The ulcer has opened up deeper, affecting the muscles, and is causing pus to accumulate and protrude the skin. This condition is called an abscess. Grade 3 is also the stage where infection could not be prevented and has already kicked in. The patient may need to stay in the hospital with a doctor so the injury may be further observed.
Grade 4 – Gangrene localized to portion of forefoot or heel. At Grade four starts the most alarming stage. Here, not only is the presence of toxins and bacteria high, it is also the stage where the skin starts dying. Patches of dead skin cells called gangrene may form around the wound. Gangrene is a dangerous skin diseases that spreads and kills surrounding living cells.
Grade 5 – Extensive gangrenous involvement of the entire foot. At this stage, there is skin discoloration of the entire foot as a result of gangrene fully taking over all the healthy skin cells in that part of the body.