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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?
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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

How can I avoid an amputation due to diabetic foot?

Diabetic foot doesn't necessarily lead to an amputation. The earlier the condition is recognised, the more likely an amputation can be avoided or delayed.

What are the symptoms of diabetic foot?

The symptoms of diabetic foot vary depending on whether it's caused by a neural disorder or due to a disrupted blood supply. The extent of the illness is also decisive, as the patient often feels no discomfort at first.

Symptoms due to a neural disorder:

  • An increase in the number of calluses, usually occurring across the metatarsal head and the heel.
  • A loss of sensation, tingling or burning feeling in the toes and feet
  • Swollen joints
  • A reduction in and/or loss of feeling pain and temperature.

Symptoms due to poor blood supply:

  • Cold feet
  • The skin is thin, und pale or has a bluish colour
  • Skin injuries and sores
  • Pain in the calves while walking, which is relieved when standing still.

If you only discover one of these symptoms, you are advised to contact your doctor or a podiatrist as quickly as possible, so as to avoid the need for an amputation.


Keep your chin up: Ten ways to help prevent an amputation

If you take the risks seriously and do regular checks, you can help prevent diabetic foot and a subsequent foot amputation.

Search, shoes, specialists

According to estimates by the German Federal Association of General Practitioners, some 45 to 85% of foot amputations could be prevented*.

So you should:

1. Take good care of your feet.

2. At least once a month, check the feeling in the soles of your feet and examine the entire foot for injuries using a mirror.

3. Go for check-ups regularly and ask your doctor to examine your feet in detail. Not all family doctors are aware of the risk.

4. Buy yourself the correct shoes (not too tight, with room for the toes, and no so-called "orthopaedic shoes"). Use orthopaedic insoles made especially for diabetics where applicable.

5. Get professional foot care (even if this is not covered by your health insurance) and let the specialist show you how to care for your own feet.

6. Use oil or urea-based creams to care for dry skin.

7. Visit a specialist when there is even the slightest sign of cracks or wounds – ideally, go to a diabetic foot clinic. Do not wait until your toe turns black or your shoe starts to smell. The first signs are dry skin, cracks, loss of feeling in the foot, calf cramps, fungus infections, calluses and warm feet.

8. If you have already been diagnosed with diabetic foot, examine your feet every day.

9. If you have diabetic foot, consult experts about special footwear modifications, protective footwear, custom footwear or orthotics to relieve the strain on the foot.

10. Have wounds treated solely by specialists for diabetes or wound healing.


* Workgroup for the Development of Diagnostic and Therapeutic Recommendations in Case of Diabetic Foot Syndrome for the Practice of the General Practitioner: Diabetic Foot Manual]; Emsdetten 2001, foreword by Prof Maximilian Spraul, page 3)