Diabetic Foot Treatment

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Diabetic foot problems, such as ulcerations, infections, and gangrene, are the most common cause of hospitalization among diabetic patients. Routine ulcer care, treatment of infections, amputations, and hospitalizations cost billions of dollars every year and place a tremendous burden on the health care system.

The two main foot problems that occur in people with diabetes are:

  • Diabetic Neuropathy
  • Peripheral Vascular Disease


However, symptoms might include:

  • A loss of feeling
  • Numbness or tingling sensation
  • Blisters or other wounds without pain
  • Skin discoloration and temperature changes
  • Red streaks
  • Wounds with or without drainage
  • Painful tingling
  • Staining on socks

If an infection develops, a person may also experience some of the following:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Uncontrollable blood sugar
  • Shaking
  • Shock
  • Redness

Any person with diabetes who experiences symptoms of an infection, especially on the feet, should seek emergency treatment.


Treatment for diabetic foot problems varies according to the severity of the condition. A range of surgical and nonsurgical options is available.

Nonsurgical treatment

A doctor will first attempt to treat diabetic foot problems without using surgery. Some methods include:

  • Keeping wounds clean and dressed.
  • Wearing immobilization devices, such as a cast boot or total contact cast.
  • Closely observing any gangrene on the toes until self-amputation occurs, which is when the toes fall off due to lack of blood flow

Surgical treatment

When non-surgical treatment does not successfully heal diabetic foot problems, the doctor might consider surgery. Surgical options include:

  • The removal of decaying or dead tissue
  • Amputation, ranging from single toes or sections of the foot to amputation of the leg below or even above the knee
  • Surgical stabilization of Charcot’s Foot
  • An arterial bypass for peripheral vascular disease, which assists blood flow to the area
  • Endovascular surgery with placement of stents, which uses small devices to keep blood vessels open.