Wound healing in people having diabetes is a cause of concern around the world. Doctors estimate that every half a minute a person suffering from diabetes loses a lower extremity due to a wound. One of the most common complications developing from diabetes is the development of foot ulcers in patients. Poor blood supply to the foot due to damaged blood vessels is one of the primary reasons why these wounds occur in the foot. Damage to the nerves causing difficulty in feeling extremities and a healing process that takes longer than normal are also causes of these foot ulcers. In fact, people suffering from diabetes have a ten times higher risk of requiring an amputation as compared to those who are non-diabetics. Therefore, if you have diabetes, then even minor injuries, particularly to the feet, need to be treated as serious injuries.
This is why proactive and preventive foot care is a necessity for diabetics. A diabetic boot has been designed keeping in mind these various factors that affect diabetics. A diabetic boot helps treat people with diabetic foot ulcers. What exactly is diabetic foot ulcers and how does a diabetic boot help in preventing a serious infection is what we look at today.
What is a Diabetic Boot & How Does It Help Treat Diabetic Ulcers?
Diabetic foot ulcers are one of the most common complications in people having diabetes. Foot ulcers are common in people having diabetes as the skin tissue breaks down, exposing the tissues underneath. They are known to occur commonly on the big toe and then can affect the feet all the way down to the bone. They can also develop on the ball of the foot. If you have a callus on your foot, then that spot can also develop into a diabetic foot ulcer with time. In fact, people having diabetes often complain about getting calluses on their feet. Diabetic foot ulcers are usually experienced in the following cases:
- People who have poor control over the blood sugar levels
- Those who have had diabetes for over ten years
- Who have been diagnosed with neuropathy
- Those who use insulin
- Who have heart disease
Too much pressure on the foot or irritation from shoes/socks can also cause these ulcers to form. Doctors often recommend that you should reduce the pressure on your foot in order to slow down the growth of ulcers. This is where a diabetic boot comes in.
A diabetic boot is used by people having diabetes to relieve the pressure on their foot while walking. Diabetic boots are known to slow down the growth of a diabetic ulcer and can also help prevent the spread of infection from an ulcer. A diabetic boot is also helpful in boosting the efficiency of other treatments such as intravenous (IV) antibiotics or medications.
A diabetic boot is available in two types – removable and irremovable. Generally, doctors prefer to use a diabetic foot treatment known as a total contact cast which creates constant pressure on and around the foot and is irremovable. The fact that it cannot be removed is essential for achieving best results with treatments. In fact, a study conducted in 2003 on people who were given a total contact cast that was removable, found that the participants did not want to wear it for the major part of the day, thus rendering any treatment useless. The study observed that out of an entire day’s steps, the participants only wore the protective cast boot for just 28 percent of the time. An irremovable total contact cast is therefore preferred by doctors as it reduces the recovery time in people as they are constantly wearing it.
A 2011 study proved that by wearing a diabetic boot, diabetic ulcers on the foot that were not accompanied by an infection, heal within six to eight weeks. An ulcer that is accompanied by an infection, however, lengthens this recover time even after wearing diabetic boots.
While most studies have shown a diabetic boot to be very helpful in promoting healing of diabetic foot ulcers, there was a study conducted in 2016 that found no difference in the healing of diabetic foot ulcers by wearing a removable diabetic boot, an irremovable diabetic boot, and a normal cast.
In spite of these results, most doctors still prefer to prescribe a diabetic boot to patients suffering from diabetic foot ulcers in order to speed up the recovery process.
Wearing an irremovable diabetic boot is no doubt bothersome. However, once you have it removed, then what happens? While you might think that once it is removed you will be able to go back to your life as usual, that is not the case. Even after removing the diabetic boot, you will still need to remain cautious with your feet and still rest as much as possible. Your routine checkups with your doctor will still continue to ensure that the wound is healing properly and that no infection is setting in.
Do the Pros of Using Diabetic Boot Outweigh the Cons?
Many people often wonder whether it is worth to opt for a diabetic boot. If you are suffering from diabetic foot ulcers, then you might want to consider getting a diabetic boot as it definitely does have many advantages that far outweigh the cons. What may influence your choice is factors such as whether to get a total contact cast or a removable version of the boot. If you are still considering whether or not to get a diabetic boot, then go these factors may help you decide.
- Diabetic boots are likely to shorten the recovery time and also prevent or stop the ulcer from becoming infected.
- Total contact casts or irremovable casts are more likely to help you recover than a cast or diabetic shoe that can be removed.
- You will only achieve the best results from wearing the diabetic boot all the time. This can prove to be bothersome for some people.
- Opting for a removable boot will definitely make you more tempted to remove it more often than what your doctor recommends.
- Even after wearing a diabetic boot, you still will have to restrict your walking as much as possible as only that will allow for faster healing of the ulcer.
- Apart from a diabetic boot, you can also opt for using treatments such as antibiotics to help treat the foot ulcer and infection.
Understand that you need to have a proper diabetes management plan in place if you want to prevent foot ulcers. So be sure to have a healthy lifestyle and routinely check your blood sugar levels to ensure that they are within a normal range. Also, make sure that you inspect your feet daily. Look for signs of trouble such as cuts, sores, cracks, any swelling or tenderness, or even any redness. Take care to clip your toenails carefully so that you don’t cause any breaks in the skin. Wash and rinse y our feet properly every day in lukewarm water and guard your feet against any injuries. With proper care, you will be able to avoid getting foot ulcers and thus avoid having to wear a diabetic boot.