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Why do parts of my foot have to be amputated?

Causes for the amputation
Why do parts of my foot have to be amputated?
read more

How can I avoid an amputation due to diabetic foot?

Causes for the amputation
How can I avoid an amputation due to diabetic foot?
read more

Why do parts of my foot have to be amputated?

A diabetic measuring blood sugar

 

Amputation is a last resort

An amputation is only carried out when it's the only way to effectively protect your health in the long term. It is often necessary when the flow of blood to the affected region of the foot is no longer sufficient to supply the tissue with enough oxygen (diabetic foot).

Another reason for an amputation are accidents resulting in injuries that make it impossible to restore the foot. Although it may sound strange, in such cases, a partial foot amputation is often the only chance to walk again.

Whatever the reason for part of the foot being amputated, it is necessary to consider treatment options with prostheses at a later stage.

The most common reasons: accident and disease

You are not alone in being affected: most of the thousands of amputations conducted each year are carried out on the foot. Diabetes (or more precisely: diabetic foot) and serious accidents account for nine out of ten foot amputations. However, peripheral arterial occlusive disease (PAOD), better known as "smoker's leg", also plays a significant role – and is not confined to smokers.

The numbers and causes of peripheral arterial occlusive disease have remained constant for years. This is because the longer people live, the more likely they are to develop diabetes mellitus – a major risk factor in PAOD. However, since patient care continues to improve as well, the number of amputations remains about the same.

Amputation as a result of diabetic foot

Diabetic foot is the most frequent cause of foot amputations. Diabetes mellitus results in several disorders that combine with one another:

  • Reduced perspiration causes the skin on the feet to dry out and crack
  • Sugar deposits in the nerves prevent affected individuals from noticing their cracks and wounds
  • Diabetes mellitus severely impairs wound healing
  • When sores are subjected to stress, the wounds get bigger. The tissue becomes inflamed and dies
  • There is also a risk of foot inflammation since diabetes disrupts blood circulation and the cells die.

Amputation in case of circulatory disorders

Smokers or those with metabolic disorders may be affected in ways similar to people with diabetes mellitus. When blood flow is disrupted, the leg no longer receives enough oxygen, leading to pain especially when walking.

One thing holds true in all cases: an amputation is only performed when certain parts of the foot cannot be saved and need to be removed so as to protect the rest of the foot or leg. It also means that there's a chance of using the foot again with the help of a partial foot prosthesis. Sometimes an amputation can be avoided by taking preventative measures well in advance.