Reviewed by Joseph Maloney, M.D.
Approximately two million people worldwide suffer from diabetic foot ulcers. Diabetic foot ulcers are the leading cause of non-traumatic foot amputations in the industrialized world. Roughly, 25 percent of hospitalized diabetics receive treatment for their feet.
Diabetes affects circulation as well as the nerve endings in the feet. Like all metabolic neuropathies, diabetic neuropathy affects the longest nerves preferentially; hence the involvement of the feet. As a result, many diabetics suffer reduced circulation and loss of sensation in their feet. The loss of sensation is dangerous, because they are unable to feel rubbing, pinching or other pain that could cause a wound to develop on the foot. Lack of circulation to the feet makes it very difficult for a wound to heal. Risk factors for developing a diabetic foot ulcer include loss of sensation or peripheral neuropathy, structural foot deformity, infection, and decreased circulation.