Diabetic Foot Ulcers

What is a Diabetic Foot Ulcer?

Diabetic foot ulcers are open sores or wounds that occur in around 15% of diabetes patients, and is usually located on the bottom of the foot. 6% of those who develop a foot ulcer will be hospitalized due to ulcer-related complications or infections. Diabetic foot ulcers are responsible for more hospitalizations than any other complication of diabetes. Dry skin is common in diabetic patients, and can therefore be more prone to cracking.



What causes a Diabetic Foot Ulcer?

Anyone with diabetes can develop a foot ulcer. It occurs more commonly in African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, and older men. Those who use insulin are also at a higher risk, as well as patients who suffer from diabetes-related eye, kidney, and heart diseases. Using tobacco, alcohol, and being overweight are also causes in the development of foot ulcers.

Due to poor circulation in the foot caused by diabetes, foot ulcers can form. Foot deformities, friction & pressure, trauma, and the duration of diabetes are also factors. Patients who have suffered from diabetes for many years can develop a reduced or lack of ability to feel pain in their foot called neuropathy. Because of this, many people don’t realize they have a problem until it’s too late.

Vascular disease complicates foot ulcers, and higher blood glucose levels can reduce your body’s ability to fight infection, as well as slow healing.



Symptoms of Diabetic Foot Ulcers

Since many people who have developed foot ulcers no longer have the ability to feel pain, pain isn’t a typical symptom of foot ulcers. Many people first notice drainage in their socks, followed by redness and swelling, and sometimes even a distinct odor.

Other signs and symptoms include:

  • Redness, increased warmth, or swelling around the wound
  • Extra drainage
  • Pus
  • Odor
  • Fever or chills
  • Increased pain
  • Increased firmness around the wound
  • A white, blue, or black ulcer 


Treatment of Foot Ulcers

To treat diabetic foot ulcers, the main goal is to heal as soon as possible. There are many key factors in the treatment of a diabetic foot ulcer. These include:

  • Taking pressure off of the area, known as “off-loading”
  • Preventing infection
  • Debridement of the area - removing dead tissue and skin
  • Properly managing blood glucose levels and health issues
  • Applying medication to the area affected
  • Keeping the area clean and bandaged 
  • Avoid walking barefoot
  • Cleanse the wound daily with a saline solution to provide a moist wound environment 

The very best way to treat a diabetic foot ulcer is to make sure they never develop in the first place. See a podiatrist on a regular basis, especially as a diabetic patient. Your podiatrist will be able to let you know if you’re at high risk of developing foot ulcers, and help you create a game plan to prevent them.




Recovery is an ongoing process, and varies from person to person. There are several phases on the road to recovery, and each can hold difficult challenges and require different coping strategies. Many people feel that talking with friends and family (or a counselor) can help ease emotional distress.


About Kenney Orthopedics…

Working closely with patients and caregivers in Kentucky and Indiana, the Kenney Orthopedics Team employs the latest biomechanical management, materials, and technology to restore function and permit normal motion after your amputation.

The highly qualified staff of Kenney Orthopedics will select, design, and fabricate the appropriate prostheses, prosthetic limb or device, or orthosis to fit your specific lifestyle and needs after your amputation. Visit us in Louisville or Lexington, Kentucky, or at one of our other locations in Kentucky (KY) or Indiana (IN). We can help you get moving again with a prosthesis designed for you after your amputation!


Sources: 1, 2, 3

Image source: 1


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